Scott Young had long dreamed of learning to fly, but there was a lot to keep his feet on the ground: he spent decades as a petroleum engineer in the oil and gas industry, working on deep-water projects and high-pressure gas development. He and his wife, Deanna [pictured with him above], also raised three children. The time to earn his pilot’s license just never seemed to present itself.
Then one day in 2003 Scott came across an article about Angel Flight in a magazine. He loved the idea behind the organization, and it became that last push he needed to learn to fly and earn his ratings. He purchased a Diamond DA-40, a four-seat, single-engine light aircraft and began flying for Angel Flight South Central in 2006.
Now flying a six-seater Baron, Scott recently flew his 300th mission with AFSC — that’s an average of about two missions every month for 13 years.
He says at first his primary motivation was getting patients where they needed to go: just knowing that he had helped people reach life-saving medical treatment was reward enough. But he realized over time that many of his passengers were also looking for something else: companionship. “When you’re sitting in an airplane for that long, you’ve got plenty of time to talk” he says. “It’s not just about delivering the service of flying, but also talking with them about their circumstance.”
[Scott took this photo of Michael just after Michael learned he was cancer-free.]
Scott lives in Magnolia, 40 miles northwest of Houston. Most of AFSC’s passengers are traveling to and from MD Anderson in downtown Houston. This means that Scott sees a lot of repeat passengers needing to fly back and forth for ongoing treatment. Some specially request Scott because they enjoy his company so much.
Jessica Weller (who was a regular AFSC passenger in her teens, now a survivor and RN) flew frequently enough that she began to see some pilots repeatedly—Scott particularly stands out in her memory. “I loved flying with Scott,” she says. “He’s a really great guy. He may not realize it, but he was really there for my family whenever we needed help. He is a hero for families that need health treatment and can’t make it to where they need to go.”
[Above: Sandra is one of Scott's regular passengers.]
Scott’s commitment to the organization has extended past flying: he has also served as wing leader for AFSC’s busy Southeast Texas area (2013–15 and currently). In this role, he spends less time flying and more time onboarding new volunteers and encouraging existing volunteers to stay active. As wing leader, he says, “you don’t get the joy of interaction with passengers, but you do get to help grow an organization that has capacity to do good. Most of my time has been spent remaining in contact with our large number of pilots and encouraging them to fly as much as they can reasonably justify. I also let them know they’re appreciated.”
Once his current term as wing leader ends, Scott is eager to get back to regularly flying patients. His goal is to complete another 200 missions with Angel Flight South Central. “I’ve taken real comfort knowing that our relationship is important to our passengers and that we’re not just a means to get from A to B,” he says. “It’s been a phenomenal experience.”