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Angels in our midst
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There are angels in this world and believe it or not, they have wings.

The wings happen to be attached to the fuselage of an airplane.

There is a wonderful group of volunteers who serve a non-profit organization called Angel Flight of Georgia.

These are folks who own private aircraft and volunteer to fly patients to and from various medical treatments around the South.

For the pilots, its a chance to fly and they are able to write off the cost as a charitable donation. But most of them will tell you that's not why they do it. They do it because the folks they are flying have no other reasonable way to get to a distant medical facility.

They have also come to the rescue of folks who are stranded, such as the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The volunteers flew a number of humanitarian missions taking needed supplies in and victims out.

They have also flown organs for immediate transplant.

Many of you who read my column on a regular basis know that my brother, Dixon, is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. He was recommended for a program offered through Duke University Medical Center.

Getting him there was a dilemma. A car ride would have involved 8 to 10 hours on the road. He's not at full strength and it would have just worn him out.

Bill Howell, a car dealer in Cumming, plugged me in with Angel Flight of Georgia. He is a pilot and has flown a number of missions for the group.

Arrangements were made for a volunteer to fly him up to Durham and another to get them back a couple of days later.

The pilots range from retired military and airline pilots to business executives who just enjoy cruising the skies. They understand that the people they are transporting are not well and make every effort to make them comfortable and at ease.

On the first flight, I met my brother and his wife at Peachtree-DeKalb airport. I was worried about his ability to get in and out of the small plane. He managed to amble up onto the wing and get in. His dismount involves him sitting down on the wing and just sliding down. It's not pretty, but it works.

Part of my reason for writing this is just to say thanks. The service the pilots provide is incredible. My brother is now under the treatment of a specialist who only deals with his type of brain tumor. There was not one in Georgia.

Because of his treatment at Duke, we have seen remarkable improvement in his condition. They also instill an extra measure of confidence that they are working extra hard on his behalf.

The other reason is to tell you that the service is there. Treatment for cancer and other diseases is very specialized. There are adults and children who have benefitted from care they could not receive in their local community. Sometimes the flights are bringing people to Atlanta from other parts of Georgia. Other times, like our situation, they are taking them out of state.

If you know someone, a child or an adult, who could benefit from air transportation for medical treatment, give them a call.

Information on the program is available at or by calling (770) 452-7958.

I don't know who came up with the name, but they are indeed angels and I'm certainly glad they're willing to carry folks in earnest need on a winged flight through the heavens.