Frequently asked questions

What is Angel Flight Australia?

Established in April 2003 Angel Flight Australia is a charity which coordinates non-emergency flights to assist country people to access specialist medical treatment that would otherwise be unavailable to them because of vast distance and high travel costs.

All flights are free and assist passengers travelling to or from medical facilities almost anywhere in Australia.

Angel Flight volunteer pilots are not medically trained and do not carry aero-medical staff or medical equipment so do not act as an alternative to the Royal Flying Doctor Service nor Air Ambulance.

Who do you help?

Anyone who is medically and financially disadvantaged; families who have been financially devastated by medical bills due to illness, accidents or other chronic conditions.

Passengers must be able to enter and exit a light aircraft without assistance and be able to sit upright and communicate with the pilot. Passengers must not require medical care during the flight. A companion is welcome to travel with the passenger for support.

Young or disabled passengers must be accompanied by an adult capable of moving the child into and out of the aircraft.

Angel Flight can assist passengers on multiple occasions, for example, attending follow-up appointments or undertaking a series of treatments for a condition.

What circumstances are not suitable for an Angel Flight?

  • International requests.
  • Unaccompanied minors.
  • Nursing home relocations.
  • Adults who are not able to enter or exit the aircraft unaided.
  • Passengers requiring a rescue service or an air ambulance service, or who need monitoring by medical staff or medical equipment during the flight.
  • Passengers who are not medically stable or whose medical condition is unsuitable for transport in a non-pressurised light aircraft.
  • Passengers travelling for critical care (for example, an organ transplant) as flights can be delayed by the pilot or cancelled at short notice due to unsuitable weather conditions.

How does it work?

A referral must be sent to Angel Flight with the authority of a registered ‘health professional’ (for example, a medical practitioner, nurse or social worker) who is familiar with the passenger’s medical condition. Depending on the locations involved, the Flight Coordinators require 5 – 10 working days’ notice for transport assistance.

If your referrer is not registered they can do so quickly and easily online. Once a referral has been received and approved the Flight Coordinators then invite applications from our volunteer pilots and drivers. The Flight Coordinators will notify the referrer and passenger of all arrangements once finalised.

What type of planes?

Flights are provided by volunteer pilots using their own aircraft or aircraft they have hired at their own expense. These aircraft are termed ‘General Aviation aircraft’ and most have 4 – 6 seats.

The aircraft will either be ‘High Wing’ where the wing is above the cockpit (not unlike getting into a 4WD) or ‘Low Wing’ where the cockpit is above the wing which requires passengers to climb up onto the wing and crouch down into the cockpit (a bit like getting into a small sports car).

What type of pilots?

The flight credentials of our volunteer pilots and aircraft owners exceed the minimum requirements of CASA for private flight in Australia and the aircraft meet specified regulatory and insurance minimums.

Our volunteer pilots come from all walks of life and are required to have more than 250 hours as a ‘Pilot in Command’; a current medical clearance and all relevant experience and endorsements for the type of aircraft they will be flying.

Angel Flight volunteer pilots donate their time, their skills and the majority of their aircraft costs for each flight. To help offset the pilots’ operating costs Angel Flight Australia subsidises fuel used on flights, negotiates the waiver of landing fees at many supporting airports around the country, and arranges the credit of any air navigation charges thanks to the support of Airservices Australia. Donations to Angel Flight are used to subsidise fuel costs.

Where do you land?

Most flights will land at ‘GA’ or ‘General Aviation’ airports such as Bankstown in Sydney or Archerfield in Brisbane. If there is an appropriate airstrip in your home town, depending on weather conditions, Angel Flight pilots may be able to land there.

How do I request a flight?

A ‘health professional’ (medical practitioner, nurse, social worker) is the only person who can authorise a flight request after considering all of the passenger eligibility criteria. Contact your ‘health professional’ and if they are not registered with Angel Flight ask them to contact us to discuss your request.

What happens when the aircraft lands?

When the aircraft lands at the major town or city where the medical facility is located, volunteer drivers may be available to provide ground transportation for passengers from the airport to the medical facility and return.

Please note that ground transport is not provided in the passenger’s home town (for example from the passenger’s home to their local airport).

Can I just request a driver?

Volunteer drivers are only called on for assistance to meet an Angel Flight aircraft. The Flight Coordinators do not call on volunteer drivers for any other reason than to meet the aircraft after landing, and transporting the passengers to/from their appointment (or accommodation if the passengers have travelled the day prior or are returning the day after).

How is Angel Flight Australia funded?

Angel Flight is funded by private donations We have a policy to never follow up donors asking for more support.

The charity relies on support from individuals, clubs and service clubs, large and small companies, and bequests.

Angel Flight is an exceptional charity in that it does not have a fundraising department and only spends about 15% of revenue on administrative overheads such as rent and telephones. Approximately 85% of revenue is spent on the actual coordination and delivery of its service.

Who is behind Angel Flight Australia?

Angel Flight Australia is the initiative of Bill Bristow AM , a successful businessman, experienced pilot and very proud winner of the Australian of the Year Award – Queensland 2005.

In 2009, Bill was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for service to rural and remote communities through the establishment of Angel Flight Australia and as a supporter of other charitable organisations.