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Flying high for hope: Pilot's mission for medical care access

Hope Air charity takes flight in Saskatchewan.

REGINA — A Regina pilot has taken the Hope Air charity under his wing to help more people in Saskatchewan access vital medical care.

As this year’s expedition captain, McNair is working to create awareness about the charity’s sixth annual fundraising expedition, Give Hope Wings. McNair and a handful of other volunteer pilots are travelling to La Ronge, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, and Regina airports to meet community members and dignitaries.

Hope Air is a national charity that aims to raise $600,000. It arranges travel through flights, accommodations, meal vouchers, and ground transportation for Canadians who need to travel for medical care far from home but are unable to shoulder the costs.

Some commercial airlines, transportation companies, and private pilots donate seats and air travel to the charity. Funds from private and corporate donations assist in covering the patients’ other costs.

“Here you have people who are dealing with health concerns at the same time they have concerns about how they are going to get to their follow-up appointments, perhaps they were even medivaced somewhere and now they have to worry about how they are going to get home,” said McNair.

A local physician and pilot, Kobis Steyn, was among the crowd of people who attended the public reception June 20 at the Prince Albert airport.

“I totally support them,” said Steyn.

He says it’s a valuable service, for instance, when a child needs pediatric cancer treatment outside of the province.

McNair says one of the best features of the charity is its’ ability to act as a “travel agent” to help co-ordinate appointment times with their services and take the stress off the patient.