April 19, 2020

With an urgent need for fast and reliable testing of patients suspected of carrying the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), general aviation (GA) pilots are providing critical logistical assistance to ensure virus tests arrive promptly at laboratories – and their efforts are being recognized throughout the media.

WXGA TV reported that volunteer organization Angel Flight Soars recently partnered with Navicent Health to expedite delivery of COVID-19 tests from across Central and South Georgia. After a successful trial run April 13, more flights to labs in North Carolina and Tennessee have taken place.

“We were driving all our specimens to those labs [which takes] four to six hours,” Michael Hajworonsky, vice president for diagnostic services for Navicent Health, told the TV station. “Because of a company and their wonderful ability to fly our specimen[s], we’ve cut that time in half.”

With labs in Georgia backlogged, the ability to fly COVID-19 tests to surrounding states for processing means faster results for patients and medical personnel – in some cases within 12 hours, versus several days or even up to a week.

Charlotte television station WJZY noted that Angel Flight Soars usually flies patients for surgery, but the organization “adapt[ed] to a new reality” in the era of COVID-19. “We’ve been very busy,” said volunteer Doug Ellis. “There are testing stations all over the Southeast, [but] very few labs, and these swabs have to be tested.”

The all-volunteer pilot organization also reports a surge of interest from pilots looking to assist with these efforts.

“We have had triple the amount of pilot applications submitted in the past month – far above the number we usually receive,” noted an April 15 post on the Angel Flight Soars Facebook page. “These pilots are unselfishly accepting their call to action to serve others during a time when their skills are much needed.”