Angels With Wings

The Early Show: Angel Flight pilots strive to make their passenger's life easier. Laura Lattanizio CBS/The Early Show

Anyone who travels can attest to the hassles of flying. Delays, security concerns and expenses only add to the stress of one already sick.

But ill passengers are receiving a little relief from several hundred private pilots, reports Early Show National Correspondent Jon Frankel.

Laura Lattanizio was once a little girl who wanted to fly. When she grew into an adult, she became an angel — with wings.

"I asked dad — I want to fly and he said that girls don't fly," said Lattanizio. "So I had to wait until I was older and take it up on my own."

Now she pilots a Piper six-seat plane several times a month for a program called Angel Flight.

Lattanizio said, "We'll fly anyone who has a need for medical care."

Angel Flight Northeast President Larry Camerlin said they fly the medical patients and their families as often as they need treatment and without charge. They also carry organs and patients awaiting organs as a service. His division is one of six in a nationwide network that transport the sick.

One patient was flown 189 times over a three-year span with all expenses paid. Those who are ill, leave the flying to any one of the 800 pilots who volunteer in the northeast corridor. There are also Earth Angels who provide ground transportation.

"70 percent of all the patients we fly are cancer patients," said Camerlin.

Lifesaving Deeds

Richard Cornish was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and prefers air support to reach his doctor.

The average Angel Flight is nearly 5 hours. Richard's flight is just 14 minutes from Martha's Vineyard to Hyannis, but it's a lifesaver in more ways than one.

"Ground transportation to him means renting cars and getting on ferries," said Lattanizio. "It's a six-hour round-trip for him. The poor man is undergoing radiation treatment every day."

"It's a long and rather tedious voyage and without Angel Flight, I don't know if I could go through that," said Cornish.

His daily treatment takes less time than his flight. "Daily treatments, five days a week, over almost 8 weeks, so I think is going to make his life much easier," said McAnaw.

Angel Flight pilots strive to make their passenger's life easier.

"Pilots love to fly airplanes. They are always looking for a reason to fly airplanes … You know you get tired of that $300 hamburger," said Camerlin. "Getting in your plane flying, to have lunch and coming home. That gets old very quick."

Lattanizio, who wasn't allow to fly as a girl, is soaring now.

"I'm just a gal who likes to fly, and if I can use that plane to help somebody, I'll do it … it gives me a good reason to fly," said Lattanizio.

For their passengers, it's also a lift on the route to recovery.

Since 1996, Angel Flight has answered over 13,000 flight requests.

Patients Needing Help Can Call Angel Flight at
1-877-621-7177
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