Pilots for Patients

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Crustacean Commentaries – Under the Scope
July 2, 2024
RESCHEDULED: Paul Vice Bridge to close to traffic tomorrow
July 2, 2024

As a southern Louisiana community, Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes as well as their surrounding areas have persevered through a multitude of trials and tribulations. From hurricanes like Katrina and Ida to the chronic, and sometimes terminal, illnesses that plague individual households, our community seems to be constantly on the mend. Luckily, there are a number of dedicated heroes who come together to make that mending just a little easier. Pilots for Patients [PFP] is one of these organizations.

Made up of local pilots and based in Monroe, La, Pilots for Patients is a program dedicated to providing free air transportation to patients needing diagnosis and treatment at medical facilities not available to them locally. Their goal is to eliminate the burden of travel, allowing the patients to focus on getting well. Each flight transporting a patient to and from care is called a mission, and there are numerous volunteer pilots who use their own resources and funding to help these patients in their community.

One of these volunteer pilots that has worked with Pilots for Patients for over six years is Taylor Weeks. While Taylor has only been personally involved for a few years, the organization as a whole has been around for nearly fifteen years and conducted its inaugural flight on Jan. 14, 2008 with Mike Terry as the pilot and Linda Fox as the first patient to take advantage of this organization.

According to Taylor, Pilots for Patients was started by Philip Thomas, a Monroe resident and president of Precision Paper & Board. He’s also a member of the Alliance for Aviation Across America and, as Taylor puts it, had a heart for people who were struggling to get from A to B in their medical journey.

Taylor said the amount of missions Pilots for Patients completes a week is around twenty to thirty which is wildly inspiring for local cancer patients or anyone with compromised immune systems who cannot fly with a public airline or travel by car. Through the volunteer work of these pilots and the donation of private planes, patients are able to get to and from their needed treatments in a timely manner and be back home the same day.

A pilot has the option to work with the same patients if they need frequent transportation, however, it doesn’t happen too often. Taylor’s priority is picking up any missions from Houma as much as he can since he is currently one of the only pilots from the area. Otherwise, most patients and pilots are in the Monroe or northern Louisiana area. More often than not, the pilot that transports patients back home from their medical treatment would be a different pilot than the one who flew them there.

Aside from Pilots for Patients, Taylor actually owns Luckeys Jewelers, a local family business, and that takes up the majority of his time. He has a wife and two sons who are also in love with aviation so perhaps the humanitarian aviation practice will continue down the line.

According to Taylor, the organization is certainly growing, however it seems to be growing more in patients than in pilots. This could be due to the growing cost of aviation and the simple fact that people arent flying as much, but more people in the community are becoming aware of Pilots for Patients which is definitely positive. Taylor sees the organization growing and hopes to see more pilots soon, specifically from the southern regions of Louisiana.

For patients to qualify for a mission with Pilots for Patients, they need a reason for travel whether that’s a one time appointment or recurring appointments, and from there it’s as simple as contacting the main office at (318) 322-5112. They will then require a written notice from the patient’s doctor stating their need for travel and affirming that they can travel. They will be linked up with a pilot for their mission and Taylor said it seems like an easy, streamlined process.

“A few years back, I was actually at the jewelry store one day, and someone I had never met before heard about the organization and heard that I fly. He was practically begging me to take his wife for treatment. She had terminal cancer, and sadly, she’s since passed. But however, within about a day and a half from our initial meet up, we were able to get her fully signed up and fly out with her. So, it’s really, really quick. It’s not something that will take a lot of their time or effort,” Taylor shared.

As for pilots who may want to get involved with PFP, they must meet the basic criteria which is 250 hours of experience and be IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) certified. They should certainly have a willingness to help. As Taylor puts it, pilots are usually looking for a reason to fly and you can only fly for fun for so long. This gives someone a really great reason to fly across the country, to navigate busier airways, and to ultimately get to help and meet some really amazing people.


Another local pilot that has volunteered with Pilots for Patients for many missions is Glenn Northcott. He has flown over 300 missions with the organization so far and continues to fly with them because, for him, its more than just helping others out, it’s about loving on your brothers and sisters in the community and planting that seed everywhere you go.

“To me, life is not just about helping people and doing good deeds, but about planting seeds, and helping them along their journey, and just giving them the support they need. Whether thats a flight or a hug, or to say a prayer with them. Just to help them in their journey,” Glenn said.

Throughout his life, Glenn has known the struggle and perseverance that comes with terminal illnesses such as cancer, having lost his mother and a wife to it as well as having battled cancer himself. He knows from personal experience the ways in which it can affect someones life from financial burden to the stress that is induced when one has bills to pay while being in poor health.

“If I can lighten their burden just a little bit by making it easier to get to and from a specialist then its worth it,” Glenn shared.

Glenn first got involved with PFP around 2015, having been inspired by his father who flew missions for a similar organization called Angel Flight. Now, not only does Glenn fly for PFP, but his son and daughter-in-law do as well.

Glenn has been unflagging in his efforts to get patients where they need to go, having flown patients all the way to Los Angeles, California and Rochester, Minnesota. Pilots for Patients has no bounds for where they are willing to fly patients. The priority is getting them where they need to go.

“It’s really comforting to see when you can help these people in their time of need. Its really a benefit and a blessing to the pilots when you do the trip and when you get done. It just makes you more grateful for your own situation whether it be health or a job, it just makes you appreciate how good life really can be, and the good times,” Glenn said.

He strongly believes that pilots should feel encouraged to volunteer for organizations like Pilots for Patients because there are a plethora of people, especially in local areas, who do not have easy access to the specialized care they need. Glenn acknowledges that there are great, qualified doctors in south and north Louisiana, but also knows that when you get a specific type of cancer, or a complicated illness, you want to go somewhere where the doctor treats that type of thing twenty times a day and not three times a year. Because of the pilots volunteering their airplanes and their services, it eliminates that cost issue that stops many from getting the specific treatment they need. Not to mention, it expedites the process as a whole and gets the patients back home in a superior timeframe that doesn’t include, as Glenn quipped, “bouncing up and down the highway for six hours”.

Outside of PFP, Glenn’s main occupation is flying for United. He deals with a couple of other aviation businesses as well, and this gives him the opportunity to bring in more volunteer pilots for the organization. Several United pilots have since joined PFP.

“A couple of years ago, my sons and I, we did a thing where we landed in every airport in the state of Louisiana in one day. I think it was 69 airports, and it took us like 18 hours. But, what we did is we took a Pilots for Patients sign and we put it at every airport in the state, so were just planting the seeds in the aviation world. So every time a pilot lands in Louisiana, they’re gonna see these signs and go ‘What the heck are these signs? What are these people?’ So if we can do something to add two or three more pilots a year, well then that’s 10 or 20 more patients that Ive helped that year,” Glenn said.

Aside from aviation, Glenn is fairly involved with Cross Church in Houma alongside his wife, and he travels to Honduras for medical and youth mission trips. He goes down there two or three times every year, and plants seeds there as well. He cherishes his time there and his ability to go and share a smile, a laugh, and a hug.

According to Glenn, he has three main passions in life beside his wife and family: aviation, boating, and helping people. He believes life is about finding a way to devote yourself to your passions and dedicating yourself to helping people and planting that seed so the ones you’ve helped will continue to help others.

As Glenn shared, “I’m not a doctor, so I can’t heal these people. I’m not an eloquent spokesperson. I’m not a pastor. But I found a way that I can help these people.”

And that mindset remains true with another local volunteer pilot flying for PFP, Dr. Pedro Cuartes. He first got involved with them around 2017 after he had been flying for nearly three years, and having known of organizations like it, the immediate draw was the chance to help his local community.

“To be able to fly and use that skill, and be blessed enough to have my own plane for it, well what better way to use it, versus just flying around, for a wonderful purpose,” Pedro said.

A couple of years ago, Pedro actually sold his plane and is mainly concerned with his main occupation as a dentist. He’s fairly busy work-wise and with general family life, but he is technically still a member of Pilots for Patients, though he hasn’t flown for a few years. When he was flying for them, he would make the time by dedicating his designated off days to flying missions, and it wasnt too hard for him to find that time because he wanted to fly anyway.

While he came across so many wonderful people through his volunteer work, Pedro specifically remembers two patients on the opposite ends of the spectrum, age-wise. “One of them was an older gentleman with his wife, and then a much younger person—he had to be in his mid-thirties— and his wife, and although they were at different points in life, their stories were kind of similar, and I remember connecting with them very well. In the couple of hours or so we’re together, you cut through all the fluff and get right down to the big, meaty life issues, and I learned a lot from them,” Pedro shared.

Pedro was one of the first pilots in the Houma area to volunteer with PFP and has seen lots of growth around the southern regions and is so glad to see it take off. He would like to see even more help expand across the state, and even out to neighboring states like Mississippi and Arkansas.


The experiences one gains from working with Pilots for Patients connects with the patients and their families just as much, if not more, as the pilots that volunteer. Teri Rau, a local mother of five, first heard about PFP when she was searching online for options to travel to and from the specialized care her son needed in Houston, Texas.

Her son, Brecken, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in his leg when he was seven years old. He has since completed his treatments, but when they utilized Pilots for Patients, they traveled to Houston twice a week.

“For us, it was a lifesaver, financially and emotionally, because I was able to get my other kids to school in the morning and then leave with Brecken to go to the local airport, fly out to his treatment in Houston, and be back home for the evening activities for Brecken and the rest of the kids. It was just amazing what it did for us, having to go twice a week, for 12 weeks,” Teri shared.

Teri and Brecken flew with many different pilots during their time with PFP. “One was a guy named Benjamin from Covington, one was Taylor Weeks […]. We flew with Malcolm and Rosemary who own a little bed and breakfast in Gheens. […] There was another pilot who would fly out of the Shreveport area. He actually went to medical school with my husband and once he heard we were flying, he applied with Pilots for Patients so he could fly down here and get us there. […] There was a lady from Baton Rouge. There were so many people all around just wanting to help,” Teri shared.

Brecken’s treatment originally started in Baton Rouge to allow Teri to remain open to doing her other mom duties, however their switch to Houston caused her a lot of stress until she found Pilots for Patients which allowed her to do all of that and more. They utilized PFP for their trips to Houston and back, and received help from a driving organization called Houston Ground Angels which transported them between the airport and the hospital. They were able to receive Brecken’s treatment and return home all in one day.

Pilots for Patients provides a vital service for local Louisianians that is not often thought about. You think about people battling cancer or other illnesses and pray for their recovery and their care, but here are true heroes, dedicated to ensuring that the stress of transportation is cut out from the stress of everything else. And with just this simple burden lifted off of their shoulders, these families and patients can focus on what truly matters, which is getting well.