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Little Wings @ The Coalface

Not for profit organisation Little Wings started 12 years ago in NSW with just one plane and has now grown to four planes and expanded its reach into Queensland.

The organisation provides air and land transport for children who are seriously ill or have a chronic illness and need a hospital more than three hours’ drive from their home. The service operates in 71 regions in NSW, the ACT, QLD, and parts of the Northern Territory, and is completely free for those who need it.

Chief Operating Officer Katie McIntyre said they are with the child for their entire treatment journey until they’re 18 years old.

“We have a little one who has been flying with us for eight years and she will fly with us until she is 18.

“Little Wings is the next level of care when the patient no longer needs that emergency treatment.”

When Katie came on board four years ago, the service was doing around 10 missions a week and towards the end of last year they were flying up to 70 missions every week.

“That’s over 5,000 children we’ve been able to support with Little Wings and our Medical Wings missions.

“Another example of someone we transport is a gorgeous little guy who needs orthopedic appointments regularly and it’s quite challenging for him to travel. His problems are to do with his muscles and skeleton so it can be very uncomfortable. We pick him up from Gladstone, fly him to his appointment six hours away and then we take him home.

Little Wings @ The Coalface
Seth, Rebecca and Liam O’Neil from Maryborough QLD.

“He’s in a lot of pain and struggling so our service makes a huge difference for him and his family. We can transport the child with their parent or carer too, or their sibling, whoever they need with them.”

The Medical Wings program is in addition to Little Wing’s transportation service. It is designed to support children in their community with medical appointments.

“It’s something we started because of some of the challenges during covid. We didn’t want to bring children into the city, so we flew teams of allied health professionals or pediatricians into rural and remote areas, and they do clinics for all the children in the area. And, the program just stuck,” said Katie.

“Sometimes we’re seeing that it’s the first time ever some of these communities have ever seen an OT or another medical specialist in their community.”

Little Wings relies on grants and donations to run their service to ensure it’s available to anyone who needs to use it.

“The need is always growing. We are prepared to do anything to get the money for the service, even just a sausage sizzle!

“We never want a family to be struggling.

Little Wings @ The Coalface
Bentley and Racheal Donald and Kelly Staff from Theodore QLD.

“We’ve been operating in Queensland for just under a year now. We are so glad we expanded into the sunshine state, there was definitely a need in the state for what we offer.

“In Queensland alone just in that year we have helped over 290 children and over 550 volunteer hours have been recorded.”

Those volunteer hours include the 35 pilots who all offer their services to Little Wings for nothing.

“We are over 90 per cent volunteer based, our pilots, drivers, event staff are all volunteers. Our pilots must have over a thousand hours flying time and they must hold commercial licenses. They are exceptional pilots; they give up their time for free to fly for us.

“The drivers also give up their time for free, they all do multiple flights and drives for us every week at no cost.

“Each and every one of them are nothing short of amazing.”

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