Angel Flight East Kootenay marks 600th flight

Organization ferried 11 patients to and from Kelowna in a single day at the end of January


Angel Flight East Kootenay recently hit a milestone 600 flights at the end of January, including a return trip to the region with a completely full airplane.

It was also a significant day in that Angel Flight was able to fly five patients down to Kelowna, while returning to the Kootenays with six patients, according to founder and pilot Brent Bidston.

“We’ll never beat that,” said Bidston.

The milestone is notable given that the organization is able to fly on a more reliable schedule with the addition of a Cessna 414A aircraft that can operate through inclement weather

For context, the organization flew 115 patients in 2021, before the acquisition of the new aircraft.

With a new airplane in operation by the start of 2022, Angel Flight carried 570 patients to and from Kelowna and the Kootenays over the last 12 months.

“And there’s no sign of that decreasing as we’ve gone into the new year,” Bidston said.

Also, the organization has only had to cancel one flight since the addition of the new aircraft, something that was a regular occurrence with the previous airplane Angel Flight operated.

Bidston, a retired commercial airline pilot, founded the organization as a volunteer medical transport service in 2019, flying patients from the East Kootenays to specialist medical appointments in Kelowna.

Currently, Angel Flight is operating every week, flying patients Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, consolidating flights wherever possible to maximize patient transport and to save on fuel and other operating costs.

“The biggest challenge we’re facing, to be honest, is pilots,” said Bidston. “Because this aircraft requires quite high qualifications, the pool of pilots is much smaller. Now we do have three great guys who are actually active airline pilots who are going to try and fill in for us, but of course, their availability is dependent on their work.”

A retired commercial airline pilot, like Bidston himself, who lives within striking distance of Cranbrook and the Canadian Rockies International Airport, would an ideal candidate, he said.

Bidston is also looking to build out a bigger network to share the administrative burden.

Original article:

A heart filled thank you

Thank you to Angel Flights from Creston! You gave me a safe and smooth flight home from Kelowna after my heart surgery. You took away the worry about how I was going to get home. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

New father in need

Thank you ‘Angel Flight East Kootenay’ What amazing work you are doing for people in our community!I

Got big help from you, and I wanted share my story of how I got that help and how others can get help when needed in an emergency case. On 17th August 2019 my wife delivered a baby boy at Cranbrook hospital. Due to breathing issues, the baby had to be taken to Kelowna hospital by air ambulance. Because of the very small space in air ambulance, my wife and I couldn’t go at the same time. We were informed that they only can take the mother in air ambulance so Ihad to find my own way to Kelowna. One of the nurses from the hospital gave me the phone number and information about Angel Flight Kootenay.As soon as I got the number I called them. By the way, the day was Saturday, around 9 pm, so I thought to leave a voice mail in case the office was closed, but within a ring I was able to connect with Brent and Janet. I explained the situation that I was looking for help to fly to Kelowna as soon as possible. Within 20 min Janet confirmed that they can fly me to Kelowna, and also arrange a taxi to Kelowna hospital from airport.Next morning I met Brent and Tod at Cranbrook airport. Brent and Tod are very friendlyand we had a good flight with some beautiful scenery below. Within about an hour we reached the YLW airport, and a taxi was ready to pick me up. In fact, I reached Kelowna hospital earlier than my wife. I was so happy that I could see my boy sooner than expected. That was a big help and relief!I have no words to thank you Angel Flight Kootenay– Brent, Janet, and Tod,
Dilip and family

Return from an emergency

Brent, Todd, Jan, I can not thank all of you enough for the support and the services you guys had provided to myself and my daughter during a stressful time to get us back to the east Kootenays!

I can not find the right words, to explain what the Angel Flight does, but all I can do is tell my story to hopefully help, and show others that they are not alone when the last thing they want to think about in an emergency situation is how to get back home with their loved ones! The dedication you all show to make this a successful alternative for others.

This is a service that the valley has needed for sometime, and finally it has been accomplished!
You guys put your heart and soul in to this special flight services and donate your time at your own cost while putting your lives on hold to ensure others are taken care of!
As I thought this service was only offered to others who do not have vehicles or ways to the hospital, it’s not, it is there for others to get home so their family members don’t have to drive the tiring distance or the long hours.

On August 5 2019,

I was faced with a life threatening emergency with my daughter.

( 2 years ago, my daughter almost died on me 2x in May 2017, due to complications of having tonsils and adenoids removed, resulting in bleeding almost to death as one of her main blood vessels wouldn’t stop bleeding, and having blood transfusions)

My 8 year old daughter was rushed to the sparwood emergency, due to uncontrollable bleeding that what we thought was a nose bleed…
We were then transported to cranbrook, and then flown by BC Air to Kelowna early hours in the morning, as Alberta was not an option for us.

Kelowna and sparwood suggested it would be best not to have every family member travel down because of the unknown results at the time, and to wait incase things change and we would have to be transferred to Vancouver.
As things at the hospital in Kelowna were starting to get underway for the medical care, I started to stress about how to get back to the valley, and started pricing out flights, a rental vehicle, and seeing who could take the time off of work back home to do the 16 hour drive ( 8 hours to and 8 hours from Kelowna).
The hospital asked me about the angel flight service, and that’s when I stood corrected and thought it was only provided for those in need…

You all have opened your hearts in to this angel flight service, and I hope that this will continue to help others as it did for myself.

Anyone who thinks that they are alone at a hospital with no way home, please talk to any staff members at the hospital to help get you home as if there is a will there is a way! There may be no charge for this service, but a donation will sure help keep this going.

Thank you all so much!

A 30 minute appointment

Without Angel Flight East Kootenay I would have had to use commercial flights and due to there timing I would have been two nights in a hotel, plus meals.

I can’t drive any distance anymore and even if I could find someone to drive me it would have taken two days each way as I can’t spend too long sat in a car. This would have been even more nights in Hotels for me and my driver.

The flight was just over an hour with great scenic views of the mountains.

Turned out my appointment was very important and they wanted me in hospital immediately but could not get a bed until Tuesday which was five days away. Only choice was five nights in a hotel at my expense or return on Tuesday. I immediately rang Angel Flight again and was very lucky that they could bring me back on Tuesday.

Thank you so much Angel Flight