Fayetteville volunteer flies patients to hospitals

Posted February 20, 2010 1:20 p.m. EST
Updated February 20, 2010 4:31 p.m. EST

— A Fayetteville pilot is being honored for flying patients to medical facilities to which they otherwise could not afford transportation.

Kenny Hardin has been named North Carolina Pilot of the Year by Airlift Hope America, a nonprofit that coordinates air transportation for thousands of patients in the eastern United States to facilities such as Duke Medical Center and Shriners hospitals.

"Every flight is memorable," Hardin said in a news release. He volunteers his time, service and the use of his personal aircraft.

Many of his patients have been terminally ill children and adults, but helping them is an uplifting experience, Hardin said. He asks each patient to sign a book and puts a picture of them in it.

"When I'm having a tough day, I look through the book. It cheers me up," he said.

Hardin got hooked on aviation after a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon six years ago and made his introductory flight from Gray's Creek Airport in Fayetteville.

He said he heard about about Airlift Hope from colleagues and decided to start volunteering in summer 2007.

"It's a neat way to give back to the community, plus I enjoy flying. It's a win-win situation," Hardin said.