A native of Switzerland who emigrated to the Western United States in 1979, Hans Fuegi’s interest in aviation started when he was just a kid. As a real estate, development and hospitality professional, Hans found himself owning a business in California but residing in Park City, Utah. For a born adventurer and successful restauranteur, that seemed the perfect time to learn how to fly.
“There was no other good way to get from one place to another,” Hans said, “without a twelve-hour drive, or an airline ticket that still didn’t get me where I wanted to go.”
So, after getting his pilot’s license in 1985, Hans bought his own plane — a Piper Turbo Arrow IV — and linked up with AirLifeLine, through which he volunteered flying passengers with medical and health needs. Hans then joined Angel Flight West in 1999.
By the time AirLifeLine had merged with Angel Flight West in the early 2000s, Hans was ready to continue his mission of support. Today, he’s a proud board member of Angel Flight West, where he soars amidst a growing network of over 1,800 volunteer pilots that serves more than 5,000 passengers a year across 12 Western states.
“Every single flight is always satisfying,” Hans said. “You serve a much-needed purpose. I get as much out of it as the passengers do.”
Many of those passengers have left indelible impressions on Hans’ memories. Recently, as part of a two-leg mission, Hans flew a devoted mother, Violet, from Billings, Montana to Ogden, Idaho for treatment. But these two were hardly strangers: Violet has been flying with Angel Flight West for nearly 20 years, and with Hans himself for 15.
“This is a reason, I believe, many Angel Flight West pilots fly: to provide a crucial service. You don’t know how good you’ll feel until you do it.”
Though Hans’ spirit of generosity has remained a steady constant since his first days in the air, his aircrafts of choice have changed as his flight skills have deepened. For the past three and half years, he’s piloted a Phenom 100 — a small, light jet he shares with fellow Angel Flight West volunteer, Mike Valentine.
“The Phenom certainly does what Mike and I need it to do,” Hans said. “It has a really good safety record — it’s been almost flawless. As I get later in my life, that’s important to me.”
Each time Hans takes to the skies with an Angel Flight West passenger, he’s reminded of that crucial commitment to safety — especially as he’s wowed by the grace and compassion of his various flight companions.
“I recently flew a young lady from Salt Lake City to Boise. Eighteen or nineteen years old,” Hans said. “She wanted to donate a kidney to someone who needed it. She just felt it was the right thing to do. I thought that was amazing.”
For Hans, the opportunity to transport unforgettable people to and from their most personal medical needs remains a cherished gift — and a responsibility he never takes lightly.
“I’m not in this for ego or anything else,” Hans said. “I’m in this to see if my talent can help move Angel Flight West along, and to grow with it a little bit.”