April 1, 2019
Business Aviation Helps Patients Get Life-Saving Treatment
Based in Holland, MI with chapters in Minnesota and East Michigan, Wings of Mercy is a non-profit, all-volunteer group providing free medical transportation, often utilizing business aircraft for those with severe or rare illnesses.
“A patient’s health insurance may cover their treatment, but it rarely covers transportation to get there,” said President Terry Boer. “We go where they need to be.”
While most of the group’s flights operate within a five-state area – often transporting patients to and from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN – Wings of Mercy pilots also fly patients to distant hospitals and specialized treatment centers as far away as Houston, TX; Quebec, Canada; and Denver, CO.
Those pilots fly aircraft ranging from single-engine Cessnas to business jets, with most volunteer pilots operating piston twins. Boer noted that Wings of Mercy has arranged more than 8,000 flights since its founding in 1991.
“Today we have 200 volunteer pilots and 60 volunteer aircraft,” he said. “Our current level is around 240 flights per year, but there are many more missions that need to be flown. We need more planes and more pilots.”
Wings of Mercy is part of the Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) database maintained by the NBAA, co-founder, with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, of No Plane No Gain.