Tom Goodwin is one of more than 425 private pilots who are ready to participate in errands of mercy. The pilots, who come from 42 states, belong to AirLifeLine.
The idea for the unique service was born on a beautiful day in 1979. Goodwin, a Sacramento businessman, was enjoying the view below as he sat at the controls of his plane. An inspiration came to him.
“I thought there must be a way to channel the energy of guys like me, who were just buzzing around burning up fuel, into something worthwhile,” he recalls.
It occurred to him that lives were sometimes lost because vital organs or rare blood types could not be quickly transported to where they were needed. Why not mobilize private pilots
and their aircraft to provide that service on a voluntary basis?
AirLifeLine was born. The non-profit organization, which is just over 2 years old, works with doctors and hospitals to provide the needed emergency service.
During the first year of operation, the agency’s pilots flew 15,000 air miles and took part in 38 missions. Each pilot freely gives his time and the use of his plane, providing his own fuel.
One member pilot found himself involved in a middle-of-the-night drama as he transported a kidney more than a thousand miles to another state.
AirLifeLine participated in two airlifts of doctors, nurses, and medical supplies and equipment to a remote village in southwest Mexico. The surgeons and their teams performed desperately needed operations which restored sight to 74 needy people. AirLifeLine will furnish pilots and planes for two similar missions during this year.
Goodwin feels that there are many private pilots who would welcome the opportunity to use their skills to help others. Bill Conway, the administrative director, pointed out that they couldn’t carry very sick patients as the planes were not equipped as ambulances, but could transport medical personnel and supplies. At present there are chapters in Iowa, Nevada, Arkansas, California and, on the East Coast, a chapter covering Washington, Maryland, and Virginia.
AirLifeLine brings together the pilots and the opportunities for humanitarian service.
Anyone interested may contact: AirLifeLine, Suite 302, 1005-8th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. (916) 442-6230.