A Virginia duo is on a mission to make sure no one is denied medical care because of lack of transportation.
John Billings, 94, has been flying most of his life but didn’t know much about charitable flying. After retiring from Eastern Airlines as a pilot he connected with Angel Flights and has been flying for them across the Mid-Atlantic since 2005.
“I guess Kalamazoo is the furthest northwest and of course the Canadian border although some of our flights are international in that we fly over lake Erie and a little bit of Canada to get to Pontiac michigan.” John Billings says.
John flies people living with illnesses to specialized facilities and hospitals, that they otherwise would not have the means to get to. He has been on 420 mission trips for Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic and has connected to hundreds of people along the way.
“What invariably happens is that these people that you fly a lot with become your family.” Billings says.
In 2009, John met Nevin Showman, who at the time had only been flying for fun. It didn’t take John long to convince nevin to start flying with a purpose.
Last year, John and Nevin transported 52 patients in need and traveled over 20,000 miles to complete their angel flight mission trips.
John and Nevin complete about one mission per week. Nevin said flying with John has made him a better pilot and a better person.
“He was a decorated WWII bomber pilot, an airline pilot, never stopped flying and just amazed me to no end.” Showman says.
The two donate their time and thousands of dollars per year for plane fuel and upkeep. They say although they are giving back, they receive a great reward.
“They make us realize that the simple things in life that means the most we take for granted.” Showman says.
And they’ve been chosen as Virginia pilot’s of the year and Mid-Atlantic pilot’s of the year by Mid-Atlantic angel flight.
“Well the human side of me tells me that hey this is neat the other side of me says I don’t want the light shining in this direction, I want the light to shine off of me and bounce off.” Showman says.
And the two say they hope they can encourage other pilots with the right resources to volunteer.