Flight Log

Resources and Stories from Angel Flight West.

AFW Provides a Haven from Chaos

Technological progress has hit the fast forward button on our society, and, at times, it seems like we’re all playing catch-up. We find it increasingly difficult to take a pause to reflect or find a foothold at this blistering pace. With endless distraction and information overwhelm, it can be hard to appreciate just how historically momentous this time is. We attach grand labels like “The Great Resignation” or “The Great Reset” to signify to each other just how shaken up our society is. Whatever label you want to attach to this period, we can say, without a doubt, that it’s tumultuous. Once again, we’re consigned to an evolutionary prerogative: adapt or perish.

We’ve faced our own forms of change in Mission Operations over the last couple of years. Beginning in March of 2020, we had to learn to work from home—something we never believed would be possible for our dynamic team, which relies so much on collaboration. Additionally, we had to adapt to supply-and-demand issues caused by the pandemic. We had our flight requests and mission numbers fall precipitously as elective surgeries and other forms of medical treatment were cancelled or postponed. So we pivoted to flying PPE and other supplies to impacted areas. As we faced challenges imposed on us by external forces, internally, we faced some staff changes that shifted workload, and we had to learn to train new staff in an abnormal environment. 

volunteer pilot loads PPE into small plane 
Southern California volunteer pilot Jerry Phan loads up his airplane as he prepares to deliver PPE supplies to Torrance Memorial

Ultimately, the changes and challenges allowed us to showcase one of the things that we do best as a team: adapt to an evolving situation. I’m proud to say we never let these curveballs distract us from our mission. Despite the changes, we’ve remained laser-focused on what’s important and have used our time to soul search and to improve procedures and standards of practice with an eye toward the future. I think I speak for all the staff when I say that the eternal question etched into all our minds is “how can we help even more people?”

Throughout tragedy and change, our volunteers have remained our anchor, as they’ve signed up for AFW in record numbers and have been flying not only passengers, but relief supplies across the Western United States. It’s easy to look on in awe and see what can be accomplished if we’re all working together toward a common purpose—unified under a mission and goal. 

All in all, it has been AFW that gives me hope for the future because it so clearly reveals what is possible, even if it’s at a smaller scale than world governments, global economies, and billions of people. What I witness daily is a master class in adapting to change and the power of unity and compassion to dissolve borders, granting access to specialized care regardless of class, race, gender, or ethnicity. 

So, let’s continue to serve as an example of what is and what can be. Let our network of volunteers, passengers, staff, and board of directors be a microcosm for the wider world. Because if that were the case, we’d witness humanity’s true potential.

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