By Octavio Serrano
As a corporate pilot, Michael Long spent 17,000 hours shuttling guests around the world.
Now he’s devoting his time to children of need with medical issues.
Long is the director of aviation for Wings of Humanity, a Scottsdale Airpark-based nonprofit that provides children with aeromedical transportation from remote areas to hospital where they can get the best care possible.
“I’ve been involved with this type of ambulance operation going back to the mid ’70s,” says Long, who formerly worked as a dispatcher for Samaritan Health Services Air EVAC. He now also serves as the director of aircraft sales for Wings of Humanity’s parent company, Global Jet Partners.
Long founded Wings of Humanity roughly a year ago and his team recently finalized the legal paperwork for the nonprofit status. He hopes to be fully operational in less than 90 days, barring a partnership with a sponsor. Wings of Humanity will focus on helping individuals under the age of 18 to avoid competing with other relevant companies.
“We’re primarily focused on helping children receive specialized medical treatment that they would otherwise not get,” Long says. “It keeps our flight operations more focused and we are not trying to compete with the other for-profit aero ambulance companies that are around.”
Wings of Humanity will employ its own pilots and stand-by nurses, as well as their own jets to make sure teams are always ready. The organization will mostly work directly with hospitals and their social workers to reach those children who most need help, Long says.
“The social (workers) have lots of children who need medical treatment, surgeries and any number of different types of treatment and don’t have the money or the insurance to get it,” Long says.
“For those children, they will, lots of times, provide treatment at no cost for the family, but then the child is too sick to ride on the airlines or they need to be on a stretcher or need medical attention. They would call us, and we would provide that transportation. There will be times when the child is critical and needs to get there right away and we will do that at no cost.”
In other situations, children may be too sick to fly and need surgery immediately. It can be difficult for surgical teams to reach outlying hospitals and Wings of Humanity wants to make sure those teams reach their patients.
“We will donate the surgery, the surgeon’s time and the equipment, and we’ll fly them there,” Long says.
To keep the patients comfortable, Wings of Humanity will work with their families to accommodate them in any way possible.
Normally, only one or two family members will be able to travel with the patient on the plane, but Wings of Humanity will help those family members who can’t fly by providing them airline tickets, Long says.
Once Wings of Humanity is more established, it will work on reaching patients in other countries in Latin America; perhaps even farther.
“I can see us flying children out of Mexico up here as we grow and do more throughout Latin America,” Long says. “It’s going to be beneficial to all.”
Wings of Humanity
15000 N. Airport Drive, Suite 102
Aviation Business Center-