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Volunteer Pilots Provide "LifeLine" For Patients In Need

LifeLine Pilots
Three-year-old Talon, pictured above, has flown with LifeLine Pilots many times as he recieves ongoing care for multiple, congential heart defects.

Traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles to seek medical attention is just one of many potential barriers to receiving care. One Midwestern organization is working to break down that barrier, and they're doing it at no cost to the patients in need. 

On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Lindsey Kerr, the Executive Director of LifeLine Pilots, an Illinois-based organization that provides free flights to patients in need of out-of-town medical care.

The organization is supported by a network of volunteer pilots who use their own private planes to provide non-emergency flights for passengers in need of care across a 10-state region.  In 2019, Kerr says they flew almost 900 patients.  

"We provide flights for people who need to travel a great distance for medical care, whether that be for a second opinion, a follow-up, or a monthly visit," Kerr says. "We have no limit to the number of times someone can fly with us."

Peter Teahen, a volunteer LifeLine pilot based in Cedar Rapids, says he got hooked on the experience more than 26 years ago, after delivering his very first patient to Rochester, Minn. Teahen has since flown patients, loved ones and even service animals to help close the medical care gap across the region. 


  • Lindsey Kerr, Executive Director of Lifeline Pilots
  • Peter Teahen, volunteer pilot for LifeLine Pilots


Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa