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The Gabelli Blog
September 22, 2005 at 13:51 Posted by Mario J. Gabelli
Angel Flight

Angel Flight, Inc. ( is a charitable organization founded by pilots, who donate their time, planes, and all necessary operating expenses to fly those in need who require medical help. I had lunch with one of these angel pilots yesterday. His name is Ilan Reich.

I first met Ilan about 15 years ago, when he was working at Western Publishing. He benefited from several successful investments, and has since left the business world. Ilan is a very thoughtful, very focused individual who has given back to those in need, flying many "angel flights" over the past several years.

Yesterday, he shared with me a story that appears in the most recent (October 2005) issue of Plane and Pilot magazine. This past June, he was flying back to Westchester Airport by himself after having his airplane serviced. He blacked out for about 10 seconds, and woke to find his plane descending, having fallen from 3,000 feet to 1,700 feet in that short time. He had enough presence of mind, after stabilizing the plane, to activate the airframe parachute that his Cirrus SR22 had as equipment. He landed the plane safely in water. The story details how he freed himself just before his craft sank in 30 feet of water, only four minutes after impact. With a broken back, he swam away from the plane towards an arriving rescue boat.

While in his hospital bed, his doctor confirmed that his back had broken and asked him a few minutes later "Did you know you also have a brain tumor?"

Fortunately, it is benign. Ilan is now recovering, his mind helping him overcome his ailments. After all his angel flights, he himself has a miraculous tale of survival. God works in strange ways.

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