Sky Hope flies to the rescue
David had just forty-eight hours to live. Doctors in his native Haiti could only watch as the sixteen-year-old’s heart slowly weakened with every beat. His only hope—a children’s hospital in the United States—lay across miles of glimmering blue water. But he couldn’t get there . . . until a miracle, made possible by the Sky Hope Network, came soaring down out of the clouds in the form of a business jet.
Sky Hope first took flight in 2010 after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Robin Eissler, Vice President of Jet Quest—whose company specializes in the brokerage of private business aircraft—used her business connections to coordinate hundreds of flights of doctors and supplies to Haiti. In the midst of the chaos, she discovered two desperate needs that were not being fully met by the current resources in the aviation community.
“We noticed that there was a real need not only for these disaster-type flights, but also for emergency flights for people who are sick or people who’ve been injured—where the difference between living and dying is a flight,” says Robin.
The organization formed its core beliefs around three pillars: response to disasters, emergency flights for the critically sick or injured, and fundraising for families in the aviation community when disaster and tragedy strike home.
Flights for Sky Hope’s ever-ready fleet of business aircraft—primarily spread out around Texas and along the east coast—are one hundred percent donated by the aircraft owners. Each month, Robin reviews requests for transport from across the country and beyond to determine whether Sky Hope can meet the needs of that particular individual. “Primarily, it’s the network of contacts that’s so powerful because if we find the need, within a few hours we can typically have an aircraft someplace in the country donated,” Robin says.
Looking toward the future, Robin plans to create a fund for air ambulance transports. Often, when people are traveling and suffer an injury or become gravely ill, their insurance won’t cover a plane ride home if significant in-flight medical care is needed. This fund would enable Sky Hope to meet the needs of a broader range of individuals who find themselves in desperate medical circumstances. “That’s pretty powerful when you know that you’re making a difference; you can see it in one person’s life. And I think that is what keeps us motivated,” says Robin.
Waiting at the airport, on any given day, is a small airplane. Its special passenger—a man with a life-threatening condition who has to get across the country for surgery, or a little girl who finished months of cancer treatments and just wants to go home without exposing her immune system to other passengers—boards the aircraft. Inside waits a friendly pilot, a bright interior with comfortable furnishings, and a galley stocked with food. As the airplane’s wheels leave the ground, a sigh of relief escapes into the air. Passengers’ worries dissipate, and what remains is hope.
For more information, visit www.sky-hope.org.