by Bob Waunch
Special to the Sounder
Orcas Aviation Association, your Orcas Island all-volunteer MERCY FLIGHT provider, is looking to the future as all organizations must.
This year our pilots have flown over 300 flights to Bellingham, Skagit, Anacortes, Friday Harbor, and Eastsound. Flights are provided for important scheduled medical appointments or procedures and to transport family members so they can be with loved ones during an emergency. Some of our pilots have been providing this service for over 35 years. Last year we celebrated Gil Blinn’s 1,000th Mercy Flight. And Gil and others haven’t slowed down.
We know the future will require a cadre of new pilots to continue this free valuable service to the community. To help solve this requirement, OAA has established a flight training scholarship program to partially offset the funds required to train fully qualified pilots.
OAA awarded flight training scholarships to Mindy Nunez and Indy Zoeller, both Orcas residents who have committed to fly Mercy Flights when they are fully qualified. We are proud to announce that both Mindy and Indy have passed their written examinations and are preparing to complete their oral and flight examinations very soon!
OAA also plans to award additional scholarships in the future to ensure there will always be a pool of volunteer pilots ready to fly.
The Orcas community has been very generous in supporting this valuable service that provides flights to an airport closest to the hospital or appointment. If it’s a life-threatening situation an individual is Med-Evac’d, but Mercy Flight pilots are also ready to transport family members during that emergency. Patients and family members are never charged for this service. We hope the Orcas community will continue to support this vital Mercy Flight service and the scholarship program.
Donations may be made directly to Mercy Flight Programs at Orcas Island Community Foundation or to OAA: P.O.Box 712, Eastsound, WA 98245