Zac Cheney has flown with Angel Flight Australia more than 60 times over 13 years. On Thursday, October 26, he will board one last time.
The Bega resident has been using the charity air service to fly to Sydney and back to Merimbula to meet with specialists.
“I’m getting too tall for the little aeroplane,” Zac said.
The 25-year-old is visually impaired as a result of a brain tumor he suffered when he was four years old.
Zac’s eye sight was gone by age nine before a second operation when he was 12 years old caused a brain injury that requires constant supervision and medical care.
“We’ve been going to Sydney about every six months,” his mother Carole said.
“Angel Flight has helped us out immensely. It means we don’t have to take a bus or a car to Sydney.
”I heard about it through Ronald McDonald House, so we just contacted them and filled out a form while they organised the pilots.”
Zac has been using the service since its establishment, meeting a host of different pilots along the way.
“They’re really nice people,” Carole said. “They’re doing a community service.”
When Zac and Carole arrive at Bankstown Airport they are met by an Earth Angel, who transports the pair to either the hospital or the accommodation.
“It completely takes the stress out,” Carole said.
Angel Flight Australia launched as an Australian charity in 2003, coordinating non-emergency flights to assist country people to access specialist medical treatment that would otherwise be unavailable to them due to distance and high travel costs.
Pilot Garry Mostyn met Zac and Carole at Merimbula Airport on Tuesday. He said using his skills to help people in need brought him a great deal of satisfaction.
“I still really enjoy flying after all these years and figured I could start putting what I know to good use, to help others,” Mr Mostyn said.
Zac will farewell his doctors in Sydney – some who have been with him the past 21 years – before changing his biannual visits to Canberra.
He said he would miss the flights, which have also included a flight on Dr Sandra Cabot’s jet or seats on Regional Express when pilots have been unavailable..
Carole seemed relieved the pair no longer had to fly.
“We’ve had some hairy flights,” she said.
“Getting up to Sydney, doing what we have to do and then coming home is exhausting.
“But the service has been wonderful. I can’t imagine what it would have been like without it.”