When Larry Marlewski flies his Mooney M201 out of Tampa Executive Airport, he’s often on a mission.
He’s one of 650 volunteers who makes sure that Angel Flight Southeast passengers get the care they need. The pilots transport patients who have rare or complicated medical conditions and who have to travel hundreds of miles to and from their medical appointments.
Marlewski, like the other volunteers, donates his plane, fuel and time to transport those patients in need.
The Lutz man, along with Dr. Donna Shannon of St. Petersburg and Warren Cheatham of New Port Richey, are being recognized as “Pilot of the Year” Honorees for the Central Florida West Region.
The recognitions will come on April 7 at the Dr. Franklin G. Norris Pilot Awards Gala, at the River Ranch Resort Airport in River Ranch.
“Pilot of the Year” is the highest honor awarded for Angel Flight Southeast pilots, according to a news release, announcing Marlewski’s selection.
Marlewski, who is retired, said providing the flights is his way of “paying back.”
“We, who have been blessed, are able to offer our service,” he said.
“Here in the Southeast, Angel Flight has flown thousands of passengers to and from medical facilities throughout the Southeast,” he said, noting the missions can be flown not only in Florida, but also in Georgia, Alabama and other states.
The organization has chapters nationwide, he added.
“We, here in Tampa, of course, are fortunate enough to have the Moffitt Cancer Center, so we get a fair amount of traffic going into and out of Moffitt,” Marlewski said.
Recently, he flew a cancer patient who needed a ride from Tampa back home to Panama City.
Marlewski learned to fly a long time ago, but set it aside for many years. After he took it back it up, he decided to get involved with Angel Flight.
The Angel Flight missions are close to his heart because he lost his first wife to cancer, and he also has friends who have suffered from the disease, he said.
Plus, he noted, making these flights is a good way to keep his Mooney up in the air.
“I enjoy flying,” Marlewski said.
Published April 5, 2017