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Angel Flight flies Georgetown man to see gravely ill wife as flooded roads wreak havoc

Pilot Rodney Battle gives Lyle wings during tough times

Angel Flight jumped into action to help a distressed Georgetown man to see his gravely ill wife in a Cairns hospital after receiving an early morning phone call from Robbie Katter MP, Member for Traeger.

With flooded roads blocking the route to Cairns and time not on his side, Mr Katter and Georgetown resident Tammy Hughes made arrangements with Angel Flight on behalf of Lyle Stacpoole who was desperate to be by his wife’s side. 

Townsville based Angel Flight volunteer pilot; Rodney Battle did not hesitate to accept when the urgent flight request was made early on Tuesday 23 January. 

Rodney flew Lyle into Cairns Airport on Tuesday afternoon and will return him home later this week. Rodney is one of 3500 volunteer Angel Flight pilots who donate their aircraft, time, and expertise to help rural people in need. 

Mr Katter comments; “I’m so grateful that someone has had the drive to create a service that gives us a door to knock on – sadly a frequent occurrence when you represent a rural area.”

Angel Flight is a charity that coordinates free non-emergency flights through volunteer pilots to assist people in rural areas, in accessing medical treatment, not available to them due to vast distance and high travel costs. 

The charity has been operating for 21 years and over this time coordinated approximately 60,000 free flights, helping 100,000 rural families access medical care, taken for granted by those living in metro areas. 

Angel Flight CEO Marjorie Pagani who received the urgent request comments; “Angel Flight prides itself on providing a unique service that not only helps the person with health needs but the families whose lives are impacted, and this case was no exception.”

“The success of Angel Flight is due to the fact that our pilots gain enormous satisfaction from giving their skills and resources to help fellow rural Australians in need. It is their way of making a very personal contribution to the community in which they live.” 

In addition to Angel Flight’s core mission, in 2021, the charity saw other ways to assist the rural healthcare crisis and began flying health professionals and students on placement into rural and remote areas, an area they will expand on in 2024. 

Despite being a vital service to rural Australians, Angel Flight has never received any government funding and for the first time seeks government support to expand on its service to also transport health professionals in and out of rural areas. Government support would fund an aircraft in every capital city, Cairns and Port Headland.