Angels flying in area

00:00, Nov 29 2013

A charity that draws on the goodwill of pilots is aiming to spread its wings further into the Nelson region and beyond.

Motueka-based Nelson Aviation College [NAC] is playing a key role in the expansion of Angel Flight NZ, which is a charity that co-ordinates non-emergency flights, assisting people who are financially disadvantaged with a medical condition and long distances to travel, by flying them to an airport nearest their medical treatment facility.

The charity, funded by Rotary, private and corporate donations, plus the involvement of flying organisations like NAC, also flies family members of ill or injured people in situations where they are unable to accompany them by other means.

NAC owners Giles and Katrina Witney, and business partner Jeremy Anderson, support Angel Flight by taking part in the operation which means they volunteer their time and aircraft to fly patients from usually remote locations in this region to an airfield nearest a treatment facility.

The charity also has volunteer drivers available on the ground who transport patients to their appointment.

Mrs Witney, who has had a long association with the aviation college, having learned to fly there in 2001 and then progressed to become an instructor, has so far flown a couple of volunteer missions since NAC became part of Angel Flight two years ago.


She said the way it worked was that healthcare professionals liaised with pilots around the country who offered assistance in non-emergencies situations where patients and family members did not have the funds to get to treatment easily.

From Nelson, they flew to either Wellington or Christchurch, using either their twin engine Piper Seminole or single engine Cessna.

"We don't do many of these flights, and we're not transporting critically ill people. Other flights we've done have been to transport family members," said Mrs Witney, who is also a qualified emergency medical technician with St John.

She said it was easy for a company like theirs to absorb the costs.

Mr Witney said it was important for them to being able to give back to the community.

Their next scheduled patient transfer is on Monday.