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Shady Brook Rotary supports Angel Flight East

The Shady Brook Rotary again demonstrated its support for Angel Flight East with Club President Ira Sherman and Event Chair Jerry Redington presenting John Clough, a volunteer pilot for the service, with a check for $1,500, proceeds from its Pancake Breakfast held in early February.

John updated his previous presentations to the Club, including photos of his single-engine aircraft, a 1995 Mooney Ovation, which he flies to distant medical facilities just about anywhere on the East Coast and sometimes beyond, through the nonprofit Angel Flight.

“My whole life is dedicated to serving people,” John said. “Making people happy and helping them is the most important thing I do.”

A New Holland resident and business owner, John flies for Angel Flight, which matches volunteer pilots who donate their time, aircraft and fuel to help people in need of medical care.

There is never a fee to the patient or the health care provider for an Angel Flight. These pilots provide their services on their own time and on their own dime.

John acknowledged it’s an expensive way to volunteer.  He said besides fuel, the costs associated with flying patients include insurance, airport fees and sometimes airplane rental or mortgage costs, if the pilot involved doesn’t own the airplane. 

It costs him approximately $250 for each hour of flying. His mission flights require an average of three hours.

“But I am glad I’ve been blessed with the resources to do it,” he said.

John began flying nearly 40 years ago and has been a volunteer pilot with Angel Flight for the last 10 years.

The story of how he became a pilot and his passion for aviation is a “love at first flight” tale.  His second-grade teacher was married to a pilot who one day flew over the school playground during recess. “We watched him go around and around, and it was the greatest thing. At that moment, I got hooked on planes for the rest of my life,” he said. 

Although he would much rather be taking to the skies, John keeps himself busy tending to his health-food wholesale distribution business, volunteering at community organizations and helping anyone who calls for help.

The people he meets through Angel Flight motivate him to keep going.

“Some need to go for weekly treatment at a facility in a different state,” John said. “Sometimes, they need to get to a distant hospital quickly because an organ has become available for a transplant, and I’m there to make that happen.”

“Besides … flying is fun,” he chuckled.

John can transport up to three passengers at a time, and he makes it his goal to complete at least one Angel Flight mission a month.

A father of six and grandfather of seven, John takes mission calls at all hours. “It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is. It’s a way to make them feel more relaxed and comfortable knowing that someone on the other side of the line is willing to assist them.”

The Rotary hopes to continue its support of John and the incredible organization he represents.

PHOTO CAP: John Clough