Wings of Mercy East Michigan

toll-free (866) 32-MERCY
fax (734) 744-6033


About Wings of Mercy  

In 1995, an airline pilot named Cody Welch from Midland, MI incorporated a not-for-profit corporation whose charter and mission was to provide free air transportation for financially challenged and medically qualified individuals needing to go to distant medical centers for treatment of unique conditions not available in East Michigan. The name of the organization was Mid-Michigan Medical Mercy Flights, Inc. (MMMMFI)

Peter's Seneca

In the process of approaching Foundations for seed capital, MMMMFI discovered another organization with a similar mission which had been operating since 1991 under the name Wings of Mercy, Inc. in Holland, MI.  Their Founder and President Peter VandenBosch soon suggested that MMMMFI’s Board consider becoming an independent chapter of Wings of Mercy in order to increase service to more Michigan residents. In early 1996 an agreement was reached and MMMMFI changed its name to Wings of Mercy East Michigan, Inc

Wings of Mercy East Michigan, Inc. has continued to grow since our first patient flight in July of 1996. We have hadMillion Mile Mission several milestones after that first mission to return a heart transplant patient from the Mayo Clinic.  We have seen over 2000 Missions and more than 1,000,000 miles flown, and we are still growing. Another organization, Volunteer Mercy Pilots in Lansing, MI has merged with Wings of Mercy, East Michigan, in order to further increase our outreach.

We make an immeasurable difference for our family of recipients. Many have told us that without this service they would not have found life-saving treatment. Wings of Mercy “levels the playing field,” giving the gift of transportation to those who might not otherwise be able to take advantage of distant medical care. Based on our experience, upwards of 80% of our clients would not be able to receive specialized medical treatment if our service was not available.

Our most frequent destination is the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, with the Chicago area, including Cancer Care of America in Waukegon, IL, our second most frequent destination.   Together, these two destinations account for 65% of our flights. In addition we have flown to St Jude’s in Memphis, Duke Medical Center in Raleigh- Durham, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Boston Children's Hospital, McGill in Montreal Quebec, National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, University of Pittsburg, University of Minnesota, Cleveland Clinic, and Sloan Kettering in New York City, We have served over 300 Recipients from more than 130 East Michigan communities from Lansing to Cheboygan to Alpena to East Tawas to  Bad Axe, Port Huron, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Howell and Flint. Our unique service allows us to access close-in community airports that further improve the logistics of traveling for our recipients.

How it Works

Wings of Mercy is not a Charter company, nor an FAA Certified Air Carrier. We are not an air ambulance.  Wings of Mercy does not compete with commercial airlines, which our patients/clients cannot afford, or with air ambulance services, which are reserved for more critically ill persons.  Rather, we are private pilots operating under the General Flight Rules of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR Part 91). We are essentially no different than one who gives a ride to a hospital in their personal car, except we travel 500 miles in 2-3 hours. The aircraft used are donated by their giving owners, and normally flown by those individuals.  We ask our pilots to exceed the FAA standards whenever possible. For example, we always fly with a second pilot even though the planes are certified for single pilot operations. We have been blessed with over 100 different aircraft and in excess of 300 pilots operating these flights.

Wings of Mercy East Michigan is funded entirely by charitable contributions from Individuals, Corporations, Foundations, and Churches.  These donors are as important as the pilots who fly the planes and the volunteers who set up the missions.  In other words we are a team of dedicated people from different walks of life who thrive on helping others. We have no paid staff. We are an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) Not for Profit Michigan Corporation in good standing.

All trips begin with a patient or family member contacting us via the phone (888) 32-MERCY or email. Our Recipient Counselor gathers information and informs the caller as to our capabilities, as well as our limitations.  He/she determines financial eligibility and asks that the patient have a Doctor's okay to fly in an un-pressurized general aviation aircraft that may require stepping up 2-3 steps for entry.  After the approval process is completed the Recipient Counselor passes the information to our Flight Coordinator who then matches the pilots, planes and dates of travel with the Recipient’s needs. 


A Successful Team

Currently, there are three Wings of Mercy chapters in the United States. They include:

Missions Map

View Wings of Mercy East Michigan in a larger map 

What We've Done--Summary of Missions

1996 to Date

2038 Missions

Total Miles Flown: 

52.00 Times Around the World for our Recipients!)

308 Recipients Assisted

137 Michigan Cities Served

 127 Volunteer Aircraft

117 Volunteer Pilots in Command

221 Volunteer Second Pilots


Michigan Communities Served by Wings of Mercy East Michigan

Wings of Mercy East Michigan serves an area of approximately 5000 square miles, including the following Michigan communities:

  • Alger

  • Allen Park

  • Alma

  • Alpena

  • Ann Arbor

  • Apple Gate

  • Bad Axe

  • Bay City

  • Beaverton

  • Birch Run

  • Brighton

  • Burton

  • Caro

  • Caseville

  • Cheboygan

  • Clare

  • Clio

  • Coleman

  • Croswell

  • Davison

  • Detroit

  • Elsie

  • Essexville

  • Flint

  • Fraser

  • Freeland

  • Gladwin

  • Glennie

  • Goodrich

  • Hale

  • Harrison

  • Harrisville

  • Imlay City

  • Johannesburg

  • Kawkawlin

  • Laingsburg

  • Lake Isabella

  • Lansing

  • Lincoln Park

  • Linwood

  • Macomb

  • Midland

  • Millington

  • Mio

  • Mount Pleasant

  • New Lothrop

  • Novi

  • Onaway

  • Otisville

  • Owosso

  • Perry

  • Pinconning

  • Pontiac

  • Port Huron

  • Reese

  • Rochester Hills

  • Rogers City

  • Romeo

  • Romulus

  • Saginaw

  • St. Louis

  • Shelby Township

  • Standish

  • Sterling Heights

  • Waterford

  • Waters

  • Weidman

  • West Bloomfield

  • West Branch