More than 75 guests attended Sunday’s open house at the new headquarters of Angel Flight West at the Santa Monica Airport. Some came from as far away as Arizona, Colorado, Las Vegas, Montana, and Chicago.
Angel Flight arranges free air transportation in response to health care and other compelling human needs for patients across the 13 Western states. The organization has provided more than 22,200 flights since it was founded 21 years ago, including a record-setting 4,300 missions in 2004.
Jim Weaver, AFW’s executive director, says, “Our opportunities to serve those in need have increased exponentially over the past several years. This new office will allow Angel Flight West to respond to these expanded challenges with a wider range of resources.”
Irv Moskovitz was on hand for Sunday’s dedication. The Pacific Palisades resident has been an Angel Flight pilot since 1993 and estimates that he’s flown at least 250 missions.
“I may not remember all their names,” Moskovitz says, “but I remember their faces, especially the kids.”
There are several passengers who hold a special place in Moskovitz’ memories. One is Lamar Dunn.
Dunn’s first trip with Angel Flight was in October 1999, when he was 28 years old. The young man from Ridgecrest was battling a recurrence of childhood leukemia and needed treatment at UCLA. Dunn became an Angel Flight frequent flyer, logging nearly 150 flights over a two-year period. Moskovitz was the pilot on 20 of them.
“Lamar used to tell me that once he was well, he would be a pilot,” Moskovitz says. “He wanted to fly for Angel Flight.”
Dunn loved flying and Moskovitz frequently took him up “just for fun,” even when no medical appointments were scheduled. “We flew to Red Rock Canyon, and over the mountains when they were covered with snow.”
Dunn died in October 2001.
Where Moskovitz is an Angel Flight veteran, Belle Dirks is a relative newcomer, having joined Angel Flight about 18 months ago. She’s 17 years old.
Though flying is clearly Dirks’ passion, the Fountain Valley High School student wants to “do something more.” So far, she’s served as co-pilot on three missions.
“It’s a great feeling,” she says, “knowing I can interact with all these great pilots and help people who really need it. It gives me experience — and memories.”
The new Angel Flight West headquarters are located at 3161 Donald Douglas Loop South. For information on the organization, visit the website at www.angelflight.org.(Editor’s note: Kathleen Masser is a consultant to Angel Flight West.)