Brent Bidston is the lead pilot and president of Angel Flight East Kootenay. Photo Submitted

Angel Flight takes to the skies once more

Angel Flight East Kootenay is once again offering free flights to Kelowna for medical appointments

Angel Flight East Kootenay is once again offering free flights to residents with medical appointments in Kelowna.

Brent Bidston, lead pilot and president of Angel Flight East Kootenay said that the organization was forced to ground flights due to the pandemic earlier this year.

“We closed down because of COVID-19 but in actual fact it didn’t have much effect because everybody had their appointments cancelled, so nobody was going anyways. Now that they are beginning to ease restrictions… people are beginning to get appointments again,” said Bidston.

On May 13, Interior Health announced that beginning May 19 elective surgeries that were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic will resume. Since many surgeries were cancelled or postponed, and travel between municipalities strongly discouraged, Angel Flight found themselves without clients early on in the pandemic.

Now, with the resumption of medical appointments and surgeries, they are happy to announce they are once again offering flights.

“We will basically be driven by what Interior Health does, now that they’ve started booking consultations and elective surgeries again, we’re able to operate,” Bidston said, adding that if a second wave of COVID-19 does change things in the fall, they will continue to operate as per Interior Health’s plans.

The charity will be following strict guidelines from Transport Canada and various medical professionals to ensure the safety of pilots and passengers. Bidston says that even though the Transport Canada guidelines are for commercial flights, the best way to move forward is to follow those regulations.

To begin with, there is a series of questions that potential clients must answer before qualifying for a flight.

“We ask them the obvious questions to hopefully rule out that they’ve got COVID-19 and then they have to wear a mask to walk through the airport and to get on to the airplane,” explained Bidston. “Obviously if someone has symptoms they won’t be able to fly.”

In order to be eligible for a flight with Angel Flight, clients must not present any symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. The clients must also not be under quarantine order because of recent travel.

Since the Cessna 182 used by Angel Flight is not a large plane, stringent disinfecting measures will be used and personal protective equipment will be required. Clients will put on their mask, sanitize their hands and keep the mask on for the duration of the flight. After having sanitized their hands, Bidston said “the idea is that if they do touch things, they shouldn’t leave anything behind.”

Already the charity has scheduled two flights for the end of the month and Bidston thinks that things will start to gently pick up from there as more appointments are rescheduled and more restrictions are lifted.

In the meantime, the charity, which relies heavily on donations, has seen a drastic drop in donated funds. According to Bidston, donations almost “stopped dead” once the pandemic hit. There have been some donations trickling in but nothing compared to the community support that they’ve seen pouring in since they launched last year.

“It’s not surprising that we’ve seen donations stop, especially because most of them came from people hosting fundraising events,” Bidston noted. “We’ve got a reasonable amount of funding left and hopefully things will ease so those types of fundraisers can be held again. In the meantime, we just want to get the word out that we’re open again. We don’t want people to feel as though they can’t make their appointment, we’ve got it covered.”

For those who are looking to either donate or book a flight with Angel Flight East Kootenay, you can visit their website at

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Local wakesurfers hit the podium, will compete at world championship

Local wakesurfers hit the podium during a national competition at Lake Okanagan… Continue reading

It happened in 1913

Sept. 20 - 26: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

A Winter’s Tale: Live theatre returns to Cranbrook with “Almost, Maine”

Cranbrook Community Theatre presentation, opening Friday, shows us how we leave each other, and how we make our way back

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read