On Friday March 23, Angel Flight West, a Santa Monica-based charitable aviation organization, will mark its 75,000th flight.

Mark Donnelly will start up his Piper Meridian at Reid Hillview Airport in San Jose. His passenger will be 19-year-old Juan E.

Juan has a genetic disorder, familial hypercholesterolemia, which can lead to premature heart attacks or strokes. Once a month, the teenager sees a cardiology specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, with transportation provided by Angel Flight West (AFW) — for free.

Most of the flights are flown and paid for by AFW’s volunteer pilots. But when weather keeps them grounded, Angel Flight West looks to its partners Alaska Airlines and JetSuiteX, a public charter air carrier. Alaska Airlines donates more than 900 tickets each year, and JetSuiteX donated more than $25,000 in donated flights this past year.

Flight 75,000 will land at Santa Monica Airport, where Juan will be met by another AFW volunteer, Margot Bernal, who will drive him to Cedars-Sinai.

“Angel Flight West has not only helped me” says Juan, “but also helped my family. Angel Flight means a lot to me and I’m very happy that I found this amazing organization. I’m so thankful for Angel Flight and the amazing pilots who volunteer to fly people.” Angel Flight West arranges free, non-emergency air travel for children and adults who need to travel long distances to access medical care and other essential services. AFW serves 13 Western states and expects to complete 5,000 free flights this year, reflecting the organization’s impressive growth since it began in 1984, when AFW pilots flew 12 missions. Visit www.angelflightwest.org for more information.

Submitted by Josh Olson, Angel Flight West