For the past 18 months, Natalie Tierney has been volunteering her time as a pilot to help sick children access medical treatment.
She’s a pilot and IT worker for Wings4Kidz, which transports children with serious medical conditions to hospitals for treatment.
The flights significantly reduce travel time and stress for families.
“There’s a lot of flying jobs where you might just fly someone around and you don’t get to know them but with Wings4Kidz you get to interact with the passengers and you get to speak to them, and you’re helping them a lot,” Ms Tierney said.
The pilot said in the air a trip from Dubbo to Sydney went by fast and it cut the stress families would have to face if they had to drive a sick child to hospital in the city.
“The best part is when you take the families home and their families are waiting for them at the airport. The other day we flew a family back to Coffs Harbour, it was a father and his daughter, and they had four other kids who were at Coffs Harbour and the mum was there waiting for them. They were just so excited to see their sister come home,” she said.
Ms Tierney is the primary pilot for the organisation. If she’s unable to make the flight there are charter companies which are used, including a pilot in Dubbo who uses their own plane.
While it’s mostly the same families who used the service, Ms Tierney said there had been some new children who had been using Wings4Kidz recently.
While it can be upsetting thinking about the sick children, the pilot said she chooses to focus on the positives and how’s she’s doing all she can to help.
To fly from Dubbo to Bankstown and back costs the organisation about $2000.
Wings4Kidz, which is non-for-profit, relies completely on donations. Ms Tierney said she was hoping the organisation would soon have company sponsors to allow Wings4Kidz to fly more children.
“If I am ever out west I’ll go to the hospitals or community centres to let them know that there’s this service available because I don’t know if there are many families out west that know about us. And I’m sure there would be a lot of families that would need our help,” she said.