Angels Interrupted

Not long before three o’clock on Sunday, dozens of passengers who had boarded a U.S. Airways Express flight were asked to deplane. Their flight would be delayed, and most knew why without anyone giving a reason. President Obama and his family were due to arrive on the Vineyard.

Inside the Plane View cafe when the cry went up that Marine One was in sight, diners and staff crowded the corner window for a glimpse of the First Family. A few minutes later the U.S. Airways passengers were headed up the stairs again, having experienced a small inconvenience or lucky sighting, depending on their circumstances.

For those in critical health who depend on the extraordinary Angel Flight service, the circumstances are different and the inconvenience is more than unlucky.

Temporary flight restrictions are a fact of life when the President visits, and even more so since September eleventh. These restrictions are all in the name of security, and no one doubts their importance.

A nonprofit organization that flies patients to needed medical treatments at no cost, Angel Flights announced this week that it could not fly due to the flight restrictions, even though it was reported two weeks ago that the restrictions would not affect the service. It is not clear what happened.

How many Islanders are affected? One is Dede Hagen, a well-known teacher at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School who is undergoing treatment for cancer. Mrs. Hagen’s husband telephoned the Gazette to say that they were due to travel to Boston for a medical appointment on Monday, but that Angel Flight had called to say they should make other arrangements.

Thankfully in this instance, Cape Air stepped in to fly Mrs. Hagen to Boston.

Clearly there is an easy solution at hand to this problem. But federal aviation officials should address it immediately, because a week can be a long time for someone waiting for medical treatment.