Brent Bidston prepares to take a passenger on a flight to Kelowna with Angel Flight. Photo Submitted

Getting to know Angel Flight

With the days growing shorter and the weather growing colder, the nearing holidays sends warmth into our hearts. Angels can be symbolic of the Christmas season, and few probably know that we have angels above us in the East Kootenay that soar on the generosity of the communities’ support.

Angel Flight East Kootenay is a free transportation service for residents of the East Kootenay needing to attend medical appointments in Kelowna, B.C. This amazing service is a fully volunteer run charity and utilizes small fixed wing aircraft for a timely transport for eligible candidates.

This service provides drop-offs, same day returns, and pick ups for patients of the East Kootenay region. They are currently flying out of the Cranbrook International Airport and the Sparwood Elk Valley Airport to Kelowna, but hope to expand to other locations with the help of additional pilots with aircraft in the future. To be eligible for a flight, there are some requirements and restrictions as follows:

• You must be able to walk and board the small aircraft.

• Due to the size of the aircraft, no wheelchairs or walking frames.

• No communicable illnesses.

• There is no medical assistance on the flight.

• No washroom facilities available on the aircraft.

• Flights are weather dependent.

• Due to the shorter winter days, appointment times between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Kelowna time are preferable. Timeline to change during spring and summer.

Does this apply to anyone you know? Visit AngelflightEK.ca, click on “Request a Flight” button and fill out the application, download and get your physician to sign the waiver and an Angel Flight East Kootenay representative will contact you.

Meet our angels, Brent and Todd, the men that always have their eyes to the skies and souls ever searching for ways to aid the community.

Brent Bidston, the president and lead pilot, is a retired airline captain with a career of 30 years for various airlines and experience flying many aircraft types. He and his wife immigrated to Canada from the UK in 2005 to enjoy an early retirement.

Since then, they have served 10 years with the BC Ambulance Service in Fernie and founded the Elk Valley Air Search and Rescue, a unit of Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, which has been operating in the Rocky Mountains since 2012.

Todd Weselake, a director and pilot, is a Fernie local who truly embodies flight itself. From his aptly named Raven Eye Photography, to his fun-loving parrot, he always has his head in the clouds, but pursuing a career in aviation, he takes aviation safety extremely serious.

They are both passionate about being part of this incredible charity and excited to cultivate the growth and success of Angel Flight East Kootenay with the support and donations of the community.

If you would like to be a part of this amazing charity, you can donate through the AngelflightEK.ca website by clicking the “Donate” button (tax receipts available). Every donation goes a long way to aid in keeping this a free service for those in need. In addition, if you or someone you know are a pilot with an aircraft that would like to join the Angel Flight East Kootenay, please see the pilot page on our website.

Happy holidays to all this season.

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