History of Our Free Medical Transportation for Patients

We’re not making history; we’re living it – one flight at a time.

Celebrating over 28 years of service, Angel Flight NE (AFNE) is a ongoing story about the courageous men, women and children and their families with an incredible will to live. AFNE flies these fine people free of charge to hospitals so they can receive critical care treatment. We have answered over 108,000 flight requests and have flown over 15 million miles since we began operation in Spring 1996.

At our busiest, we schedule between 80 to 100 flights per week for these courageous patients and their families ensuring they have access to the medical care they need.

We have never turned away a request, and with support from our friends, we never will.

Inspired Beginnings for Angel Flight NE.

Angel Flight NE was founded by Fr. Larry Camerlin, an avid pilot and priest who has dedicated his professional career to the healthcare field. He knew he wanted to find a way to give back to the community and support those in need of accessing life-saving medical care.

After leaving the Franciscan Order, he continued his ministry in healthcare and hospice work. Fr. Larry is a Catholic priest in the American Old Catholic Church, one of the rites of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, whose mission is rooted in the gospels, while providing an affirming, inclusive, evangelical and sacramental presence to all in their diversity. Fr. Larry holds a B.A. in Philosophy and M.Div in Pastoral Ministry. He is married with four children and six grandchildren.

With pro bono counsel from attorney Nicholas Hodge at the international law firm of K & L Gates LLP, Angel Flight NE was incorporated in March 1996 and soon thereafter the IRS granted us 501 (c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt status. Using a small office space donated by the Beverly Flight Center, our flight operations began on May 31, 1996 with 10 volunteer pilots and two requests for flights.

Now located at the Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Andover, MA, we coordinate flights for thousands of patients annually and work with more than 450 volunteer pilots JetBlue & Cape Air as well as hundreds of earth angels / ground crew members.

Commitment is the Heart of Our Operations

Angel Flight provides free flights because of the generous support of donors and volunteers. Private pilots donate their time, planes, fuel, and resources to provide free air transportation for AFNE’s passengers. Ground volunteers provide ground transportation to and from the airport. Our commercial aviation partners – JetBlue & Cape Air – provide unlimited flights for our patients.

The donations of over 6 businesses and 51 union members provided all the labor and materials we needed to make our new headquarters a reality. In April 1998, we moved to our new state-of-the-art flight headquarters at Lawrence Municipal Airport in North Andover, Massachusetts.

Telling Stories of Hope.

Local and national media has played a powerful role in our public outreach efforts and spreading the word about our free flights of hope to patients and attract our pilots and ground volunteers. Angel Flight NE has been featured by the following media outlets:

Honored to Serve the Community

We have been recognized for significantly improving access to health care for thousands of patients and families while also supporting the communities that we and our volunteers live in.

Among the awards we have received are AFNE Volunteer Pilots & Earth Angels’ Named Difference Makers of the Week & Year by the NE Patriots Foundation in 2010, 2018 & 2021; Induction into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame (2018); Advocate of the Year by Boston Parents Paper; National Child Labor Committee’s 1999 Special Lewis Hine Award presented to AFNE President, Larry Camerlin, for his contribution to children through Angel Flight, and the Hero Among Us Award by the Boston Celtics and Boston Globe.

Responding to Tragedy

Our unique service and infrastructure have also enabled us to be responsive in times of crisis such as when terrorists crashed two planes into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and in the aftermath of the Newton Oak Hill School bus crash in Canada in April 2001. In the wake of both these tragedies, Angel Flight was the first in the air, quickly mobilizing pilots, aviation officials, and volunteers to provide flights for the victims and their families.

In the weeks following the devasting earthquake in Haiti, AFNE pilots participated in Haitian relief efforts. They flew tents, supplies and medical staff into the ravaged country.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have flown PPE, test kits, medical supplies and personnel as well as flown supplies to indigenous tribes that have been greatly affected and lack access to every day resources,

For over 28 years, Angel Flight NE has become a vital transporter of organs and blood, patients awaiting transplants, and “compassion flights” (flying loved ones to visit critically ill family members). Angel Flight NE is making more promises every day, and striving to keep them, all to help people in their times of greatest need.