Volunteer pilots have helped make life-changing spinal surgery possible for Kyneton farmer Krystal Bourke.
The 31-year-old needed specialist spinal surgery at a Sydney hospital but was unable to travel there, until a group of generous volunteers from Angel Flight stepped in to fly her to and from her treatment … for free!
“Angel Flight is amazing for us country people who can’t get to appointments,” Krystal said.
“Sydney’s a long way from here and I was unable to get there any other way, money-wise and travel-wise.
“I couldn’t drive because of my spine, so Angel Flight got me there, and a whole lot quicker than if you had to go on a train.”
Krystal said she found out about Angel Flight by chance at the Deniliquin Ute Muster.
“They had a stall there and I went to see them and that’s how I found out about the flights,” she said.
“You get your GP to send a referral off to them and then they find you a pilot and it’s all volunteers with their own aircraft and their own time.”
Krystal was even able to take her assistance dog with her for the six-week stay, first in hospital and then in rehab at Orange.
The pair flew back to Kyneton Airfield last Thursday on a Cessna 210 belonging to volunteer Sydney pilot Nick McGlone.
Nick said it was rewarding to be able to help people and it gave him a good excuse to fly!
“You get people from country towns who tell you how long it’s taken them in the past to drive,” he said.
“There was a lady I was bringing down from Grafton, in northern New South Wales, and she had a daughter who needed regular treatment and they’d been driving and renting places when they went to Sydney and they almost had to sell their house.
“And then she told me she’d found out about Angel Flight and it just saved the day for them.”
Angel Flight’s support extends beyond air travel; they provide volunteer drivers and accommodation when necessary. The organisation also covers the fuel costs and landing fees for their pilots, ensuring that financial barriers do not hinder those in need.
People wanting to volunteer or donate to Angel Flight can find out more at www.angelflight.org.au