One of my partners, Robert Davis, has always had an interest in flying and when he joined the firm in 1987, he asked if he could use his flying skills in conjunction with his work.
I agreed, and since then he has logged thousands of hours flying around the country to assist our clients with their needs. In addition, many of our auto dealer clients own aircraft. He consults with them about various aspects of aircraft ownership. It was a good decision to allow him to fly in conjunction with his work.
Several months ago, he asked if he could participate in an organization called Angel Flight. After learning more about Angel Flight, I thought it was a great idea to get involved. I hope this column will inspire others to participate in this worthwhile effort.
Helping people and providing hope to the community is what Angel Flight is all about.
The mission of Angel Flight and, in Robert's case, Angel Flight South Central (AFSC), is to provide health-care access for people in need, through a network of volunteer pilots providing free air transportation to specialized health-care facilities or distant destinations due to family, community or national crisis.
Six Angel Flight organizations comprise Angel Flight America. The South Central branch was founded in 1991 with 12 pilots.
It now has more than 800 volunteer pilots. In 2002, more than 1,500 missions were flown. Last year saw tremendous growth in the organization in terms of missions flown (more than 2,000).
In 2002, AFSC pilots spent more than $1 million on fuel and maintenance for the 1,584 mercy missions flown. Cancer patients who need regular chemotherapy treatments make up the greatest percentage of passengers. Missions also include families who want to say their final goodbyes to loved ones.
After Sept. 11, 2001, Angel Flight pilots delivered blood to hospitals in New York and Washington while commercial aircraft were still grounded because of air security. In addition to pilots, a network of ground volunteers coordinates ground transportation to various health facilities.
I've acquired a deep appreciation for this noble group.
Robert has shared his experiences with colleagues in the firm who own or fly aircraft. He has fostered a growing interest among some of our other Dixon Hughes offices.
Many dealers and dealership organizations own aircraft, large and small. Many of them are our clients and readers of Ward's Dealer Business. Virtually all of them possess a strong volunteer spirit that's so typical among dealers.
We would like to invite them to extend their helping hands (and wings) to assist where possible with Angel Flight America.
Those interested can contact us. We'll provide the necessary introductions to the Angel Flight organization in your part of the country and answer any questions about the organization, the applicable Federal Air Regulations and the applicable tax benefits.
You can also visit AFSC's website at www.angelflightsc.org for more information.
You can reach me at 901-684-5643 or Robert Davis (when he is on the ground) at 901-684-5646.
Don Ray is a senior member of the George B. Jones Dealer Services division of Dixon Odom, a national accounting and consulting group for dealers. He's at 901-684-5643 and [email protected].