December 16th, 2014. Joe DeMarco posted this photo of us in the Wings plane shortly after our trip.
When Frank called me, he was unsure what to do next. The hospital wanted us to get there quickly, but also mentioned getting on the road and driving. Reading between the lines, this told me that the donor organs were probably not yet “harvested” and still in someone who was clinically dead, but on life support. They’d be able to stall while we drove the 6-7 hours to get there.
I had Frank call Wings. Our paperwork had been filled out and submitted, but we hadn’t yet heard back. Just a formality away from being ready. Little did I know that he had Joe’s business card that I gave him, left from when we went to Pittsburgh with the old Angel Flight.
Joe asked him where he got the number, so must have been surprised by the direct call. But it was a good thing, Joe had just finished a flight between NYC and Rochester, but was on his way back to Buffalo. He called back as soon as he landed and told us to get right there.
We packed lightly. I threw enough clothes into a backpack to last a few days, some toiletries and my Surface Pro into it. After the dead battery fiasco last trip, I packed a spare cell phone battery and charger. (No problem this time, of course.) and got ready to go. Frank grabbed his O2 concentrator, his laptop bag and that’s about all. He wouldn’t be needing clothes for a while!
We headed off to Prior Aviation to meet the plane. I had Bryan, my other son come along and drive the car home. Before we knew it, we were in the air.
Joe flew us personally and had a co-pilot along as well. My memory for names is lousy, but I think it was Greg Barnhard going by the photos on their web site. He was a commercial pilot and instructor who helps train and certify the Wings pilots. I hope I’m giving the right person credit!
These flights are nothing like a commercial passenger flight. The cabins are small, but comfortable, like a sports car. They have headsets for each seat, which are noise cancelling and allow everyone to talk to each other over the engine noise. I kept pretty quiet, preferring to listen to the chatter and communications with air traffic control. I understand just enough about it to follow what they are being told to do.
The flight took about an hour and a half, far quicker than a breakneck drive. Probably far safer too.
when we arrived, Joe had called a car service to take us to the hospital from the airport. It was a plain black cab, not quite a limo, but pretty commonplace in the NYC area as a step up from a cab. The driver was an older man and very nice. He got us to the hospital in no time.
So that’s the story of how we got there.