At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, numerous Colorado National Guard members volunteered to support state authorities.
Others with the volunteer spirit took action elsewhere. Among them was Capt. Jerome Limoge, III, of the Colorado Air National Guard’s 138th Space Control Squadron, who helped transported medical supplies to rural clinics in Burlington, Colorado, and Springfield, Colorado, using general aviation aircraft.
This ongoing effort, executed by Angel Flight West on behalf of the Colorado Hospital Association, allowed supplies to reach these towns in a single morning, instead of many hours of driving.
This flight included two Colorado Air National Guard members: Jerome and his father, retired Brig. Gen. Jerry “Doc” Limoge as crew, who flew supplies from Centennial Airport to their destinations in a single morning.
Given the state of emergency, being able to move about the state and working around duty hours required a wing-level waiver.
“That said, all levels of my chain of command were super supportive of this idea, with a local area waiver granted almost immediately by the 140th Wing, and my squadron and Wing Commander Col. Fesler even offered up aviation risk-management advice for the trip,” Jerome said. “The day of the trip, low overcast and rain required flight by reference to instruments for portions of the journey, but was otherwise very beautiful. Through the morning we heard several other aircraft using the ‘Angel Flight’ call sign, so there was plenty of charity airlift occurring at the same time, all over Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.”
While currently curtailing passenger flights for public health reasons, Angel Flight West normally provides no-cost medical airlift to patients who may otherwise be unable to reach necessary medical care, for example those living in extremely rural areas, or those who need to access highly specialized services. Even for non-flyers, there are ample opportunities to help get patients to their treatments by providing last-mile ground transportation and other assistance, especially with Denver being a hub for specialized medical care.
“Aviation is my passion; I’m always looking for an excuse to get out and fly,” Jerome said. “I’ve been a participant in public service aviation, flying rescue animals and the occasional passenger, for the past six-ish years, but flying medical supplies like this was a first. Many people see small single or twin-engine general aviation aircraft in flight and assume that its either training or pleasure flights, but quite often these aircraft are performing charity airlift: carrying patients, medical supplies and specimens, performing environmental monitoring, scientific research, as well as numerous other public services.”
Jerome said he misses instructing and flying regularly, and plans to continue volunteering.
“I was incredibly blessed to be able to participate in this effort, and am in awe of my Airmen who’ve contributed to the COVID efforts in much more demanding ways, some who’ve been working in Denver running an isolation center,” Jerome said.” The amount of volunteerism and community outreach I’ve seen from my Wingmen has been truly inspiring.”