Angel Flight East Kootenay’s new wings has had its inaugural flight, with the East Kootenay charity’s new Cessna 414A making a journey between Cranbrook and Kelowna on Dec. 15.
“All went well,” said founder of Angel Flight, Brent Bidston.
“It was beautiful – it was a full IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) day, and we were up above the clouds.
“The aircraft performed beautifully – we were higher than we could have gone before without oxygen.
“The patients loved it,” he said. He flew three patients out to Kelowna, and brought another two back on the same day.
Angel Flight East Kootenay’s new plane was purchased to allow the East Kootenay charity more reliable transport between the East Kootenay and much-needed medical care in Kelowna and beyond.
Other planes operated by them are unable to go as high, so are more dependent on good weather.
“The old planes will still get used if the weather’s good enough,” said Bidston. “Otherwise we use the new one.”
He added that given the way the weather has been in the East Kootenay in the last few weeks, the new plane could get a few flights in.
The new plane is based out of Cranbrook, which is larger and with better instruments to guide planes in in inclement weather.
The plane was purchased thanks to fund-raising and a $500,000 grant from the Regional District of East Kootenay which was approved earlier in 2021. Angel Flight East Kootenay received $300,000 up front, and will receive another $50,000 per year for the next four years to pay off the aircraft.
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