Last week, I flew my first flight for Hope Air, a charity similar to Angel Flight in the United States and British Columbia. An icy, snow December is a strange time to start on something like that — many of the singles have been put to bed for the winter — but it was a nice, easy introductory baby trip from Ottawa to Toronto, and I had the benefit of knowing that Frank Eigler was waiting by his cell phone to charge to my rescue in his ice-certified Aztec if my little Warrior got stuck anywhere.
I’ve always wanted to help people with my time as well as money, but I had enough of stuffing envelopes during my teen years. Hope Air looked like a great opportunity, but only this year did I finally have enough hours to meet their requirements. They have a tough screening process, and I was happy to make it through and get my little baseball cap in the mail. The trip went well — I won’t print personal details about the patient or her escort, except that they were wonderful, friendly people — and I felt more like I was taking friends or neighbours for a ride than performing any act of charity. Frank was at the Toronto Island airport to meet me, and he gave me a city tour in his Aztec followed by some engine-out practice over Lake Ontario to celebrate my first Hope Air flight. I flew back late in the afternoon, and landed uneventfully despite a burned-out landing light (legal, as long as there are no passengers). My next flight will be to Kapuskasing in January, a much longer trip where the weather will have to be just right.
If you live in Canada, have the experience required, and are retired, self-employed (like me), or have an employer who is flexible about hours (like Frank, who works for RedHat), I highly recommend the Hope Air organization.