AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 36

PILOT BRIEFING
MUSINGS |

Landing with a full heart
Compassion flights benefit the passengers-and the pilot as well
B Y J E R E M Y K AT Z

36 | AOPA PILOT June 2021

I had wanted to pick up this roundtrip
flight before, but my schedule or the weather
always seemed to get in the way. This time,
everything looked good. It was a Monday
in late September when I was assigned the
mission, and we were set to fly on Friday
morning. Then the changes came along.
Brian mentioned that he needed to be
in Wilbur, 70 miles and a two-hour drive
due south of Republic, to take care of some
farm business. Wilbur has a small airport I'd
passed many times on flights to Spokane.
Would it be possible to stop there and save
the drive from Republic? No problem. Then
another request: Lexi was improving and
wanted to get out of the hospital for a few
hours. Could she come along for the whole
flight? Absolutely! And one more: Could
one of Lexi's friends also fly to Seattle to
keep her company for a few days? Again,

no problem at all. When Friday's forecast
threatened icy clouds over the mountains,
we moved the trip to Thursday afternoon.
Thursday arrived with clear skies-a
perfect day to fly. I met Brian and Lexi at
my home field in Renton and a few minutes later, we were on our way. Brian got off
in Wilbur, I topped off the tanks, and Lexi
and I flew up to Republic. Lexi spent much
of the flight quietly taking in the desolate
landscape below us, but when we spoke, I
gained an immense respect for her, a sweet
young teenager, remarkably strong and wise
beyond her years. She didn't talk of cancer
and hospitals and chemotherapy and transfusions. She focused on the good in life and
looking forward to things returning to normal, without a complaint about the difficult
hand she had been dealt. She wanted to be
with her friends and family and get back to

JAN FEINDT

IT WAS A MISSION I had witnessed many
times in the Angel Flight West system.
Kathy was going to Seattle, where their
14-year-old daughter, Lexi, was undergoing treatment for leukemia, and Brian was
returning home to Republic, Washington,
to tend to the family's guest ranch. Every
week or two, for months on end, they traded
places, ensuring Lexi was never alone.
Republic is a rural town 185 miles northeast of Seattle, nestled in a small valley not
far from the Canadian border. By car, the
drive is nearly 300 miles and some five and
a half hours. The nearest airport with commercial service is a two-and-a-half-hour
drive. In a Cessna 182, the town and city are
less than two hours apart, even when flying
out of the way to stick to charted instrument
crossings over the Cascade Mountains that
divide western and eastern Washington.



AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 7
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 19
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 36
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 40
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover4
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