formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010 Charlie Sisk: Business, Aviation, and Life part 2

The Liberty Gazette
July 20, 2010
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: In spite of his earlier hesitation, Dayton resident Charlie Sisk joined Grace Flight this year and says his experiences have been uplifting. Having witnessed his own sister suffer from the effects of Hodgkin’s disease, Charlie was uncertain whether he could handle getting that personal with people who are fighting for their lives. But now he says the benefits far outweigh his previous fears. “It takes a level of stress off people who are taking debilitating treatments knowing they have transportation to the doctor.” Grace Flight coordinates volunteer pilots with patients who need transportation to medical treatment. Many cannot afford commercial travel, nor risk the exposure to germs inherent in public transportation, i.e., airlines. For people who live far from where the most prominent medical facilities are, an organization such as Grace Flight may be their only hope. As they say, “Getting there is half the cure.”

“Another reason I like doing Grace Flights,” Charlie adds, “is that it lets me control my giving. I know that 100% is going directly to the people who need it.” Grace Flight accepts donations to fund facilities at Hobby Airport, and the minimal paid staff. Overhead is low, thanks to many volunteers.

“The patients are great,” he says of his passengers. Charlie shows them how to navigate using aeronautical charts and airport diagrams, and how to control air vents to help keep them from becoming sick during the flight. He puts a headset on them and has them write down frequencies they hear the controllers say. “I think it really helps keep the boredom down,” he explains. “How boring would it be to sit in a small plane for a couple hours with nothing to do, not feeling well, and not knowing what’s going on?”

Linda: Charlie’s got a heart for people. With his success he could easily be sitting around saying, “look at me, look what I’ve done,” but instead, he’s out there helping others. “On one flight we had some pretty rough weather conditions. It was lousy weather all the way. I think my passenger actually found it exciting, but I was concerned. Heading to Mineral Wells the wind was really picking up. There’s no control tower there, but the people on the ground said over the Unicom frequency that the wind was favoring landing on the taxiway.” The two runway options were both beyond the crosswind landing limits of the airplane. “About a mile out, I banked into the wind as hard as I could, with full opposite rudder, and began my final descent to the taxiway. About 300’ above the ground the wind suddenly stopped. In front of the crowd that had gathered to see if this pilot could make a landing in that wind, it was probably my best landing ever.” An exciting flight, no doubt; one that enabled one young man to have needed chemo treatment.

Grace Flight is something Charlie doesn’t take lightly. For those who don’t fly, or don’t own an airplane, he offers this suggestion: “You don’t have to fly to help. Ground volunteers are needed too. The economy is down, people with clerical or administrative skills, ground transportation, a cheerful attitude and a caring smile are needed. You don’t need any special skills for that.” To volunteer, call 888-500-0433, or www.GraceFlight.org. Tell ‘em Charlie sent you.

www.ElyAirLines.blogspot.com.

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