Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pilots from Greater Nashua, New Hampshire, combine love of flying with joy of giving

NASHUA – Flying is fun for some pilots and a passion for others, but flying for a good cause is especially satisfying for pilots Mike Rosenblum, of Nashua, and Tom Quail, of Bedford.

They are volunteer pilots for Angel Flight Northeast, an nonprofit organization founded in 1996 with the mission to provide patients and accompanying family members free transportation to appointments for medical care at facilities throughout New England and elsewhere.

Rosenblum and Quail are among the more than 1,000 volunteer pilots who transport infants, toddlers, teens and adults. The patients usually are accompanied by at least one family member.

In addition, the men sometimes need to transport the patient’s wheelchair, breathing equipment or mobility scooter.

The pilots take their passengers to destinations offering chemotherapy appointments, burn treatments, kidney dialysis, injury rehabilitation and other forms of care.

Rosenblum and Quail share membership in the New Hampshire Flying Association, a club incorporated in 1960. The plane, a single-engine Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, is a six-seater owned by the club and shared among 17 members. It can fly at a speed of around 180 mph.

The plane, which is hangared at Nashua Municipal Airport, can travel some 700 miles between fill-ups. Currently, a fill-up of around 74 gallons of low-lead aviation fuel costing $6.39 per gallon totals nearly $473.

Quail, a former president of the flying club, and Rosenblum, the club’s secretary and treasurer, agree that they find the expense is incidental to helping someone in need.

Larry Camerlin, founder and president of Angel Flight Northeast, said since its establishment in 1996, more than 65,000 free flights have been arranged. Volunteer pilots have logged more than 12 million miles providing the service.

Upon each landing, other volunteers, called “Earth Angels,” take up the mission and drive patients and their companions to the specified hospital, medical center or doctor’s office.

“Angel Flight Northeast is blessed with more than 1,000 volunteer pilots, like Tom Quail,” Camerlin said. “Our pilots not only donate their time, planes and fuel, but they provide so much compassion to the patients and passengers they fly. Many pilots fly the same patients multiple times and become a part of the patients’ extended families.”

Camerlin said Rosenblum, a pilot for 32 years, is one whose efforts have brought comfort to hundreds of patients.

“Since joining the Angel Flight Northeast organization in 2004, Mike has signed up for nearly 90 flights of healing and hope,” Camerlin said. “Mike not only volunteers his time, plane and fuel – as do all of our volunteer pilots – but he brings compassion to each patient and passenger he flies.

“We are honored to have Mike as part of our Angel Flight Northeast organization.”

Jeffrey Sutton, of Westford, Mass., president of the New Hampshire Flying Association, said the club is one of the oldest continuously operating flying clubs in New Hampshire. He said club members hail from many towns, including Candia and Sandown, and also from as far away as West Newbury, Mass.

Sutton said he’s proud that Rosenblum and Quail are putting their time and flying skills toward a great cause that they’re passionate about.

“These guys don’t just go out and volunteer their flight time, they have to maintain their pilot currency throughout the year to qualify for the Angel Flights,” Sutton said. “It’s a big commitment.

“They usually reserve the airplane each month for potential Angel Flights. Because of their enthusiasm, we have other members looking to support Angel Flights, as well.”

Quail, a pilot since 1966 and a former president of the flying club, has been to many destinations in his eight years with Angel Flight Northeast. He and Rosenblum have taken patients to Philadelphia. Trips from Long Island to Boston are common. Shorter hops might be from Martha’s Vineyard to Nantucket.

Their longest Angel Flight took them from Long Island to Baltimore.

“I get the feeling of helping people and using the plane to do something good,” Quail said as Rosenblum loaded gear into the craft. “We have a kind of code. We don’t pry.

“One boy had something wrong with his spine. Others have cancer or some other ailment. A little girl we flew was a burn victim. Her hands had been burned off, but she was playing with her iPad. She was going to Boston from Long Island for more burn therapy of her face and hands.”

Rosenblum, chief financial officer of the New Hampshire Auto Dealers Association, a trade association for about 500 dealers of new and used motor vehicles, said that when he and Quail take the plane out, they take turns as pilot and co-pilot. They’ve been associates for about five years and have made about 40 trips together on behalf of Angel Flight Northeast.

Quail is retired from a 32-year career in the materials handling industry.

“We try to do different missions,” Rosenblum said. “We try to select different destinations and different airports. We like to go to New York, Boston and Baltimore. We’ve done flights from Maine.

“Our youngest patient was 2 years old. Our oldest is 80 years old.”

Rosenblum also cited the flight with the young burn victim as one of his most memorable.

“Our little burn victim had the most effect on me,” Rosenblum said. “You look at her and your heart goes out. She had the love and the energy and the spirit. She was some little girl.”

For more information on Angel Flight Northeast, volunteer opportunities or sponsorships, call 1-978-794-6868 or visit www.

For more information about the New Hampshire Flying Association, visit

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