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Local man honored as Georgia Pilot of the Year

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Special Photo Charles George, a volunteer pilot with Angel Flight Southeast, was recently honored as pilot of the year for his work with the non-profit organization. George is pictured here with Danielle Egan of Spartanburg, S.C., a patient he transported to the hospital.

BUFORD -- A local man with a flair for flying recently was honored for his giving spirit.

During a recent ceremony, Angel Flight Southeast presented Charles E. George of Buford with a Pilot of the Year Award, an honor bestowed upon only a dozen in the country.

George, who started flying back in 1968, said he took a decades-long hiatus from the activity but came back to it during the last several years.

"I had a 30-year absence, and I had retired, but I was looking for a way to benefit my fellow man, and Angel Flight seemed like a good way to do that," George said.

Angel Flight Southeast is a non-profit comprised of volunteer pilots who fly patients to distant medical facilities to receive treatment. According to the website, patients fly for free because pilots like George "personally pay for all costs, from fuel to airport fees.

George said he usually takes the flight missions that show up near the airport in Gainesville. "I'll call them up and say, 'I'll take this mission,' and then from there I'm responsible for contacting the patient."

Added George, laughing: "It's a good excuse for me to fly."

Since taking his first mission, George has "always been intrigued by flying. I was always fascinated by the idea."

Seven years back, he bought a Cherokee 140 airplane, and he now owns a half interest in a Mooney M20G airplane.

"Today, I try to live my life being of maximum service to God and my fellow man," George said. "This desire for service combined with airplanes and the health and resources to run them was a natural fit for Angel Flight."

He said it also helps keep him "current in instrument flight, and it makes me feel good to benefit others using skills and equipment so freely given to me in the greatest country on Earth."