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Author makes sure Angel Flight’s story is told
By Jan Warren   - 02/18/2008

The Virginian-Pilot

More Info on This Book: Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic

Suzanne Rhodes believes Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic's story ached to be told.

"So much good comes out of this little office, and so few people know about it," she said of the nonprofit headquartered in Virginia Beach since 1993.

Rhodes, director of public affairs for the air charity, authored the new book "Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic," which hits stores Monday.

Using 186 photos that depict pilots, planes and patients, Rhodes unfolds the saga of the air charity movement from its primitive beginnings - just seven years after the Wright brothers' historic first flight at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. - to the present.

Today more than 1,500 volunteer pilots in the eight mid-Atlantic states donate their time and cover expenses for the fuel and landing fees to transport patients to specialized medical treatments.

Virginia Beach has 24 Angel Flight pilots, including Roger Oberndorf, husband of Mayor Meyera Oberndorf.

"In the organization's complicated history, the one constant besides pilots is the patients." Rhodes, 57, writes in the introduction.

"Angel Flight has always been about the patient - the name, the face, the smile, the tears, the crooked walk, the scarred body and the diminishing sight. Families facing a health crisis can easily become medically impoverished. For them the pilots are truly angels, providing free flights and relief from burdens."

Writing and researching the book was challenging but enjoyable, Rhodes said. The most fun was finding the right photos to tell the story. Her search led to the National Archives where, with white-gloved fingers, Rhodes looked through those hallowed files.

The biggest challenge was meeting the technical requirements.

The 128-page "Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic" is a part of Arcadia Publishing's "Images of Aviation" series. The author had to conform to the series' specifications.

"I had to scan all the photos following instructions like '200 dots per inch.' That's when I called for help," she said.

Rhodes credits Ed Boyer, the chief executive officer and president of parent organization Mercy Medical Airlift, as her best source of information.

"He made the book possible by granting me the time away from other duties and letting me pick his brain for nuggets of information known only to him," she said.

Noted Boyer, "We're all proud of Suzanne's accomplishment. We don't allocate funds for any slick marketing, so we hope the book will help to make Angel Flight a household name. "

Rhodes has been with Angel Flight since 2003. She is an adjunct professor at Old Dominion Universit y. She and her husband, Wayne, a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, live at the Oceanfront.

Rhodes hopes the book will appeal to a diverse audience.

"It's got the romance of aviation, the wonderful stories of pilots and patients, and Angel Flight is part of Virginia Beach history," she said.

Buy It Now: Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic $19.99




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