UPDATE: An introductory meeting was held Wednesday morning at Landmark Aviation. President and CEO Philip Thomas, along with Senator Mike Walsworth and other Pilots for Patients members flew in from Monroe. Although less than ten private pilots attended the meeting, Thomas said he was hopeful and will return to Lafayette to continue to recruit.
"This is just setting up the network. I'm going to keep coming back, so that we can spread the word, and finally begin to build a small network of patients to begin helping."
Steve Broussard, a private pilot, said he will help spread the word in Lafayette, and believes Acadiana is a deserving area for the cause.
"People in Acadiana are so giving and want to help their fellow man. There's no doubt that we will get some interested parties here that would help."
Pilots for Patients 11/27
Pilots wanting to donate their time to help those in need, now have a new avenue. Pilots for Patients, a non-profit organization, is based in Monroe, Louisiana. Pilots volunteer their time, plane and fuel to help transport patients who need medical care, but cannot physically or financially afford the trip. President and CEO Philip Thomas, along with Senator Mike Walsworth will fly-in for a meeting and luncheon to meet with pilots in the Lafayette area on Wednesday.
Thomas, who originally was a founding member of a similar organization, Angel Flight, launched his non-profit in January of 2008. Four years later, and the organization just made their 1500th mission flight. Thomas said his goal was to help his neighbors and friends in Louisiana.
"There's a real need in our state to help our own for a change. We're out to help the people of Louisiana."
Patients age and illnesses range, but Thomas made it clear; they are not an emergency air- med service.
"We are trying to afford the opportunity to go somewhere else for diagnosis or treat that otherwise they cannot get locally."
He said patients must be able to walk on and off the air-craft by themselves or with assistance. His company consists of 87 pilots, so far, and hundreds of patients who go to hospitals such as St. Jude's or MD Anderson. Thomas wants to reach out to Lafayette pilots, so more can receive the treatment they need.
"Finding pilots is one thing. Finding pilots with a big heart who want to participate in this program is another thing. Right now, we want to build a base of pilots in Lafayette, so that we can begin to build a base of patients to help."
Over 20 pilots are expected to meet with Thomas on Wednesday morning beginning at 9am at Landmark Aviation.
For more information, visit pilotsforpatients.org