WHEN patients are too ill to drive themselves or their sick children to hospital, selfless individuals like Clyde Stubbs are at the ready to lend a hand.
Mr Stubbs, a Port Macquarie resident, flies planes for Angel Flight, a charity assisted by pilots with their own planes who will transport sick patients.
He has been flying since 1989 an does it solely as a hobby.
Angel Flight will pay for fuel, but everything else is donated by the pilot.
Mr Stubbs has completed 38 missions for the organisation and was more than happy to play his part to aid those 38 people and their families.
“Angel Flight started about 16 years ago here in Australia and I was based in Brisbane when I did my first,” he said.
“It was a concept that worked in the United States, which I knew about, so when it came here I heard about it and signed up straight away.
“It seemed like a good idea, especially if you have a plane and need motivation to get out and use it, but also when you go to some of these places, you realise how remote it is.
“If people need to come to the city for medical treatment it could end up being a five day car trip, but with a flight sometimes they can go in and back in the same day so it makes a huge difference.”
Mr Stubbs said he gets a lot out of doing Angel Flights, describing it as very rewarding.
“You meet some very interesting people. Of course, there have been a couple of people I have flown who subsequently passed away,” he said.
“A women was having chemotherapy and she didn’t make it, so it can be quite tough.
“Often I fly to the children’s hospital, as a lot of flights are done for children.
“They often have chronic conditions that need check ups, some go once a month for treatment which can be a big strain on them.”
At the time of his first flight it was a dream of Mr Stubbs to own his own plane, hanger and air strip. That dream is now a reality and he plans to do more flights in the future.
“I haven’t done as many others of course, but I will continue to do them when I can,” he said.
“It’s a good feeling and people appreciate it. It challenges me sometimes to do a flight I wouldn’t have otherwise done so it’s a great way to keep skills up.”
Marjorie Pagani, Angel Flight CEO, said people like Mr Stubbs are the reason their operation works.
“They are giving up not only their time but their maintenance and use of the planes. We pay for fuel, but everything else they donate,” she said.
“Without Clyde, those 38 people would have had to drive to their appointments. Some of those people are terminally ill so a drive would take a lot out of them.
“Pilots like Clyde go above and beyond to help out and we are very thankful for that.”