ALBANY — Disabled veteran Lisa Horn and her mother, Sandy Stowell, can’t say enough good things about the Angel Flight program that allowed them to travel to see Horn’s son in North Carolina.
Stowell of Albany told the Sun her daughter, Lisa, 53, lost her leg and suffered brain injuries in spring of 2018 when she was struck by a truck while driving her motorcycle in Fayetteville, N.C.
At the time of the accident, Horn was an Army intelligence officer assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division Combat Aviation Brigade. Horn had been deployed twice to Afghanistan and did yearlong tours in South Korea.
Horn’s son, Dakota Felber, 30, hadn’t seen his mother in years and the family wanted to find a way to get together. Because of her brain injuries, compromised immune system and amputated leg, Horn would have difficulties on a regular commercial flight.
Stowell, who lives with Horn in Albany, learned about Angel Flight from Horn’s equine therapist’s husband. She said when she called and explained the situation, within minutes the man on the other end of the line said a half-dozen pilots would offer their services.
“They’re angels — I’m telling you that that is a perfect name for them,” said Stowell.
Angel Flight New England, which turns 25 this year, is a 501(c)(3) organization in which over 400 volunteer pilots provide flights free of charge to people needing medical care.
They will also do community service flights such as the one for Horn and Stowell.
The two departed for North Carolina on Oct. 17 and returned home on Saturday, Oct. 23.
“It was wonderful,” Horn said of the Angel Flight experience during a phone interview with the Sun on Tuesday.
The first flight was in a Cessna 210 flown by a pilot named Scott who was from New York. They left the Eastern Slope Regional Airport in Fryeburg, Maine, at 11 a.m. and after a stop to refuel were in Fayetteville, N.C., by about 5:10 p.m.
While the ride south was bumpy, the ride back north was considerably smoother because the plane had the ability to fly quickly above the turbulence.
“It was like flying through butter,” said Stowell of the return flight.
Stowell said both pilots were “very kind and patient with Horn, who can’t move quickly.
“It just was an amazing group of people,” said Stowell of the Angel Flight pilots and staff who helped organize the flight.
Angel Flight never charges for these flights, but pilots can get a tax write-off for fuel.
Stowell said she wasn’t sure how to thank the pilots so she baked them chocolate chip cookies.
Charlie Tillett of Lovell, Maine, and Weymouth, Mass., was the pilot on Horn and Stowell’s way back.
Reached Tuesday, Tillett said he does about 20 Angel Flights per year and was eager to help Horn because he is well-equipped to do it with his Piper Meridian Turbo Prop. He said basically the propeller is turned by a jet engine.
“So because of that we can fly very high,” said Tillett. “We flew back at 27,000 feet and we can cruise pretty fast.”
Because of a 50-knot tail wind, they were able to fly back home at an overland speed of about 350 mph. And they didn’t need to refuel. So, the return flight took about 2½ hours.
Tillett said he was notified by Angel Flight that he would be assisting a wounded veteran with a prosthetic limb.
He said helping people get where they need to go is a gratifying experience for him. “I was thrilled that kind of everything came together so that we could do that non-stop for her and make the trip as comfortable as we could,” said Tillett.