Flying patients to and
from care under all sorts
As a Hope Air volunteer pilot, Floyd Hill – a lifelong British Columbian, longtime aviation enthusiast and Vice President, Director, Portfolio Manager at BC-based investment firm Odlum Brown Limited – helps patients travel to health care in exceptional circumstances, overcoming both financial and geographic barriers. For patients who live in particularly remote locations, volunteer pilots save hours of travel time and considerable stress in a way that no one else can. Floyd’s introduction to Hope Air was through another volunteer pilot, Henry Ilg, who encouraged him to get involved seven years ago. This was partly because Floyd’s airplane is powerful enough to make the rapid ascents necessary to depart from many of the small centres nestled in mountainous areas of British Columbia. Since joining, Floyd has flown many patients to and from medical care under all sorts of conditions. During poor weather, Henry and Floyd would sometimes fly together, with one watching the runway and the other managing the controls to ensure a safe landing. Their combination of equipment and expertise meant they could reach people in especially difficult to access locations.
Flying with a Hope Air volunteer pilot saves patients hours of driving time. For these patients, accessibility issues are not solved by an airline ticket alone. “One patient I assisted lived 10 minutes from a really nice airstrip in Creston, but commercial airlines couldn’t land there. If we had not picked her up, she would have had to drive to Cranbrook to get to the airport. It would have meant three extra hours on the road,” says Floyd.
At other times, it meant providing patients with a much more direct route to care, like when a patient needed to travel to Kelowna from Cranbrook. “They would have been routed through Calgary. With transfers and flying time, it would have been at least a six-hour trip. I picked them up, and 45 minutes later they were getting a taxi to where they needed to be in Kelowna.”
Floyd’s role as a volunteer pilot even provides the extra feeling of security needed during an especially challenging time. “There was one patient who was much sicker than I realized. She was flying to a major cancer operation, and she asked that I fly her back home, too. She wasn’t feeling well, and was scared she might be dying, but we got her to the operation she needed and she was so at ease on the way home. You see the difference it makes when they have someone they trust to get them to where they need to be. Hope Air really fills a great void.”
“I’ve been very fortunate in my life, and it is an honour to give back. I fly patients during tough times – people with serious illnesses, sometimes little kids. If they had to figure out how to pay for an airline ticket and a hotel, it would be that much harder.” Floyd goes on to say,
“ You see the difference it makes when they have someone they trust to get them to where they need to be. Hope Air really fills a great void. ”
In every case, Floyd’s volunteerism does more than minimize inconvenience; it minimizes suffering, discomfort and worry, supporting the best possible health outcomes for patients with uniquely difficult journeys to care. Through its network of volunteer pilots and relationships with commercial airlines, that is what support of Give Hope Wings allows Hope Air to do.