A Seattle pilot donated his 1,000th flight to the non-profit Angel Flight West on Wednesday.
Bob Schaper was helping fly Alice Stadelman back to her hometown of Hillsboro, Ore. Another Angel Flight West pilot donated her morning flight so she could get to her specialized cancer treatment in Tukwila.
The non-profit helps connect volunteer pilots with patients who need air transportation.
Stadelman, who was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, said the flight helps her have shorter days when she’s battling chemotherapy.
“Just a much more relaxing day, a shorter day, a less stressful day,” she said. “It’s a long day when you drive.”
Schaper and other volunteer pilots donate their plane and also pay for gas. Schaper, a former social worker who chooses to live in a one-bedroom apartment with his wife, estimates he’s spent about $150,000 over the past seven years since he started flying for Angel Flight West.
The volunteer pilots can write-off the donations on their taxes. AFW has more than 1,700 volunteer pilots in 13 states.
“After cost, transportation is the biggest barrier to accessing health care,” said Josh Olson, Angel Flight West executive director.
Olson added only one other pilot has reached the 1,000 flight mark.
But Schaper said that milestone is nothing compared to his total of 5,000 donated flights to other organizations before Angel Flight West.
The pilot said he gets something out of the trips, too.
“You can’t put a dollar sign on satisfaction,” he said.