In addition to flights for medical treatment, Angel Flight West provides flights for hundreds of children to attend summer camps each year. Our young passengers — some of them burn survivors, others blind or visually impaired, or navigating life-threatening illness — make a difference to each of our volunteer pilots.
For pilot Vic Jaro, aviation isn’t just a pleasant hobby — it’s deeply connected to memories of his own upbringing.
“I grew up around someone who had a passion for flying,” Vic said. “My dad flew, back in the ‘30s and ‘40s….Even [when] he wasn’t flying, he had every flying magazine he could get his hands on. I’m so grateful to my dad for providing that passion.”
Today, as a volunteer pilot with Angel Flight West, Vic fondly reflects on that treasured childhood as he shepherds children to and from summer specialty camps. Each year, Angel Flight West connects hundreds of children to Camp Rainbow Gold and to other special places of learning, growth, and community. Camp directors and families request flights each year – learn more about requesting a flight.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” Vic said. “An airplane ride, a few days at camp, and then an airplane ride back….[and] when you’ve flown someone before, you try to get that flight again. It’s amazing, the relationships you form.”
Forging such strong connections with his passengers is hardly new to Vic — he is also a volunteer pilot for Wilderness Within Reach, through which he flies children and adults with disabilities into backcountry lodges where they can experience life in the wilderness. He notes the conversations and relationships he’s built with Angel Flight West infuse him with a similar sense of duty and gratitude.
“We, as pilots, get just as much, if not more, out of flying [as the passengers do],” Vic said. “Many [of the passengers] are facing medical challenges. You can’t help but be inspired by what they tell you.”
And though he’s been flying camp missions for Angel Flight West for only about a year, Vic admits he now celebrates the non-profit every chance he gets.
“I had looked at [Angel Flight West] for a number of years and had said, ‘I really need to do that,’ Vic said. “But you just procrastinate. When you finally fly your first mission, you say, ‘what took me so long to do this?’ It’s a tremendous organization.”
Although his father is no longer alive to engage in their shared passion, aviation is still a family affair for Vic — his wife, [name], has been a pilot for more than 40 years. In fact, it was her idea for Vic to give Angel Flight West a look, in the first place.
“About 25 years ago, my wife said, ‘Hey, you need to do this,’” Vic said. “So I did, and I’ve never looked back.”
During the month of July, Angel Flight West is raising money towards our Summer Month of Giving. Donated funds help us fly hundreds of children to summer camps across the Western United States. Please consider making a donation towards our campaign today.
Article by David Radcliff