THORNLIE pilot Ron Griffin flew the skies for 34 years, but ranks his time with charity Angel Flight as some of his most fulfilling.
The 76-year-old volunteered as a pilot for the charity for six years and counts the flights he undertook as among his most rewarding.
Angel Flight is a not-for-profit organisation that provides free flights to people living in regional Australia requiring medical assistance.
While the flights do not carry medical staff or equipment, they provide transport to country families desperately needing medical attention who may otherwise struggle to meet the costs or travel the lengthy distances.
While the pilot who volunteers for the flight must hire a plane, Angel Flight covers the cost of the fuel for the journey.
Mr Griffin, who knew he wanted be a pilot from an early age, initially worked a variety of jobs in the aviation industry throughout NSW, WA and Queensland.
He said he initially volunteered as a way to notch up some easy air miles as a pilot.
“It’s a win-win situation; pilots want to keep their hours current, they get to fly a plane and somebody else pays for the fuel,” he said.
Mr Griffin said he got immense satisfaction out of being able to help his passengers.
“I didn’t meet anyone who did not appreciate it,” he said.
“It suited me to be able to pay out a couple of hundred bucks for the airplane and enjoy the ride and do a worthwhile thing.
“Somebody who’s obviously ill can’t travel by road because it’s either too long, too rough or too painful, for them.
“A short flight by airplane is much better than an eight-hour drive in a motorcar over bumpy roads.”
Mr Griffin enjoyed some satisfying encounters in his time with Angel Flight, none more so than his chat with a Denmark man who, like Ron, was originally from Sydney.
“He had a lot of guts, he looked at life in a positive sense,” he said.
“He knew what he had, there were no punches pulled and on the way from Denmark we had all sorts of discussions: philosophic, meaning of life, how the Dockers and Eagles were going, etc.”
Mr Griffin said he also enjoyed the rare flights he had ferrying sick children to and from Perth.
“They like to sit up the front and look out and you let them put their hands on the wheel every now and then,” he said.
He said he has struggled to renew his pilot’s license since 2012 due to “bureaucratic nonsense” and was doing everything in his power to return to the cockpit.