Third time lucky for Angel Flight

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Angel Flight's first attempt to deliver a Kaitaia patient to Auckland for specialist appointments was abandoned last month thanks to foul weather, and the second attempt, which was to have left yesterday, suffered the same fate.

Fourteen-day-old Magic Hoani and his mum Shannon flew to Auckland yesterday aboard the scheduled Air New Zealand flight from Kaitaia, however, and are due to be returned home tomorrow by an Angel Flight pilot.

Angel Flight, already well established in Australia, has been brought to New Zealand by long-time Australian resident Lance Weller, now living in Whangarei, who is building a network of volunteer pilots, who meet all flight costs, around the country.

The service is completed by Earth Angels, volunteer drivers who meet patients at their destination, get them to where they need to go, then return them to the airport for their flight home. The service is for medical patients who would otherwise have difficulty keeping appointments far from home and is not for emergencies. Patients need a medical referral and clearance to fly.

Ms Hoani said the alternative for her and her fifth child, a brother to four sisters, would have been to take the hospital bus from Kaitaia to Whangarei then the shuttle to Auckland, returning home the same way.

They were to be picked up from Auckland airport yesterday evening by an Earth Angel who was to deliver them to a motel. They will be driven to North Shore airfield tomorrow afternoon for their flight home.

"It would have been a tough trip by road with a 14-day-old baby," Mr Weller said.

Any decision to cancel an Angel Flight was made well in advance of departure, Mr Weller said. The cost of yesterday's flight to Auckland was covered by Air New Zealand sponsorship.

- Northern Advocate

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