I've flown three to five Angel Flights a year for the last six years or so. I enjoy it a lot.
"Angel Flight" isn't a trademarked term, and there are lots of groups of pilots who call themselves "Angel Flights". When use the term, I'm refering to public benefit flights conducted by one of the regional groups that operate in conjuction with Angel Flight America . In my case I fly for Angel Flight South Central . Each region is independant, but they are trying to harmoize the way they operate.
In general the Angel Flight regions receive requests for transportation from doctors, hosptials, charities and directly from individuals. When a request is approved (and most are) then a mission request is created and posted on the web page. The mission request lists the names of the passengers, their weights, their origin and destination, and a brief description of why they need transportation.
When I am ready to fly a mission, I check the web site for missions that might work for me. When I find one, I use the web page to volunteer to fly it. I will then receive a pdf dispatch form that gives more details about he mission, and contact information for the passengers. It is the pilots responsiblity to contact the passengers, brief them on what to expect, and arrange to meet them. Many times long trips are divided into two or more legs, and each leg may be flown by a different pilot. In those cases one contacts the other pilot to arrange the handoff.
My region does not charge dues, some others do. To fly as a command pilot you have to have a certain number of hours, around 250 I think. You have to have access to an airplane. I understand that some regions require some kind of check ride, but our region just requires you get a briefing from an experienced AF pilot. My region requires you have liablity insurance. The passengers sign a consent form that I usually ask the fbo to mail for me.
Pilots pay 100% of the costs of the mission. Money must NEVER pass from the passengers to the pilots. Cost of Angel Flights are tax deductable for most people.
I find flying Angel Flights to be very rewarding, and find Angel Flight South Central to be a very professional orgainization.
Please ask any specific questions you have and I'll try and give you my take on them. DISCLAIMER: I'm not able to speak for AF in any way except as a volunteer pilot.
Actually it is. It's been used as a trademark (with some variatios) since 1983 by the conglomeration of Angel Flight regional groups, some of which registered it and some of which didn't. It was more generally registered by Angel Flight America after the consolidation of Angel Flight and AirLifeLine last year.
Other than that small technicality, great explanation. Mini, as Jim said, the requirements of the various wings are a bit different. You best bet is to find your regional wing and talk to them directly.
But it is an extremely worthwhile thing to do.
You should be able to get a link to your region off the Angel Flight America website. If not, you can try the map at the end of the story on my web site about one mission:
If you're anywhere between TN to MI to ND, to Arkansas try www.lifelinpilots.org . I've been flying a half dozen missions per year for the past 7-8 years with them. A fun outfit if you want to be a volunteer pilot. LLP links with AF and vice versa for flights outside eac h others areas.