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'Everybody's got to do what they can do' | Private pilots volunteering to transport COVID-19 tests

It's not the first time the private pilots of Angel Flight Soars have stepped up and if today's flight is any indication, it won't be their last.

MONROE, N.C. — As far as airplane trips go, it wasn't a complicated flight.

"So I left here this morning and flew to Macon, Georgia loaded the test on the plane and flew back," said Blanton Hamilton, a volunteer pilot working with Angel Flight Soars.

But as his small plane touched down at Charlotte Monroe Executive Airport, the Coronavirus test specimens it carried were on everybody's mind.

"So to have these guys come in make exchanges as quickly and easily as possible," said Pete Hovanec, City of Monroe Spokesperson. "It's just really good to be able to do that with them." 

It's the second day that private pilots have volunteered their aircraft and their abilities in the fight against COVID-19. 

"Our labs down there are full and you're helping us out so we're flying these samples up to be tested," said Doug Ellis, another volunteer pilot.

"They were driving them up here and these people are eager to find out if they have the virus or not," Ellis said. "When they found out we were available and we can count their time in half than driving them up here they can test them and call the results back home so they can do it very quickly."

And when time is of the essence, smaller airports are better.

"Nothing against Charlotte and these major airports but it's so much easier for these small planes to get in and out," said Hovanec.

Easy enough to make these pilots come back time after time.

"It still makes me feel good that today or tomorrow they will know whether or not they have COVID-19," said Hamilton, as his small airplane cooled off behind him.

It's not the first time the private pilots of Angel Flight Soars have stepped up and if today's flight is any indication, it won't be their last.

"We've all got to help," said Ellis. "Everybody's got to do what they can do." 

Pilots with Angle Flight Soars say they'll make one trip a day out of Macon, Georgia to various COVID-19 testing labs for as long as their services are needed.

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