Daniel DeDona, left, receives an award Monday from Washington Township (Pa.) Manager Mike Christopher on behalf of Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic.
(Photo by Jennifer Fitch / June 18, 2012)
WAYNESBORO, Pa. — A Waynesboro-area pilot received an award Monday for volunteering to fly people to medical appointments at hospitals hundreds of miles from their homes.
“I think Dan is a special person. ... It’s a great honor to be presenting this,” Christopher said.
Angel Flight is a nonprofit organization that utilizes volunteers and their personal airplanes to transport patients for medical evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Various regions each have a dispatch center that pilots can use to find patients, many of whom are shuttled on several legs of a long journey. Flights are free for patients.
Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic named DeDona “Pennsylvania Pilot of the Year.” In a press release, the regional organization said it averages 70 flights a month with more than 600 volunteer pilots.
DeDona’s favorite memory from an Angel Flight trip involves a frigid February day. He was taking a woman and her daughter from Cleveland to White Plains, N.Y.
He flew several times through cloud decks, but avoided having moisture form ice on the plane. Ground crews in White Plains had warm cookies waiting for the trio on board.
DeDona flies either a Cessna 182 with retractable gear or a Diamond DA40. Both are single-engine planes able to travel between 140 and 150 knots.
DeDona, who won the award twice previously, said he prefers to help people instead of flying to a location without as much purpose.
“These people need to ride, and I love to fly,” said DeDona, who moved to Waynesboro in 1989.
The dream of flying developed for DeDona at age 10 when he was living in Michigan. However, it wasn’t until his retirement from the U.S. Air Force — in which he did not fly — four decades later that the dream became a reality.
Waynesboro has a strong history of aviation; its residents are exceptionally generous, DeDona said.
“The whole sense of community is what drives me,” DeDona said. “I love being able to do this.”
DeDona, 62, started flying for Angel Flight about eight years ago.
For more information about Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, go to www.angelflightmidatlantic.org.