Angel Flight program helps the sick

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Many people believe in angels, both in heaven and on Earth. A local group might just fit the latter, spreading its wings to fly high for others.

Too frail to take a typical flight, or too broke to buy a ticket. Two obstacles for some folks who are really sick.

But one cancer patient calls two pilots his angels.

John Darcy returned to McGhee Tyson Airport after a long trip to Boston, made possible on an Angel Flight.

Darcy said, "It means everything, means I can go anywhere in the country on the spur of a moment if something should come up real serious."

John suffers a rare form of Leukemia, and flies to his appointments for free. He said, "Their customer service is above and beyond and they mean a lot to me."

Cell phone video captured Darcy and his wife, on board a flight home to Kodak.

Cynthia Dion-Darcy said, "I'm so overwhelmed what they've done for us. They even told me if I need something for me for him they're there for us. I'm just shocked."

Pilot Steve Sargeant said,"You know the patients will thank us profusely. They say it's a wonderful thing we do for them. It's just the opposite. Probably one of the most rewarding things I do besides hug my daughter."

Rewarding, but not cheap. $325 for each hour of flight. Darcy's trip was five legs.

Fax Ayres is the other pilot. He said, "I'm always surprised by the amount of gratitude and appreciation that's always overflowing. As long as I'm a pilot I'll always do angel flights."

For Ayres and Sargeant, flying is part of their DNA.

Sargeant said, "I'm lucky enough to take the powers that were given to me and extend them if that what defines an angel then I definitely am one."

Both pilots were scheduled to head back to Philadelphia the following month, while the Darcy's were back in Kodak, looking forward to the holidays.

Angel Flights survives on contributions, and the group always needs monetary donations and volunteer pilots.


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