Pilots for Christ to speak at Southside

Published 2:21 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Floyd Atkins is seen flanked by Chris Smith and Harry Stinson, the PFC pilots who flew him free of charge to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Submitted Photo)

Floyd Atkins is seen flanked by Chris Smith and Harry Stinson, the PFC pilots who flew him free of charge to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. (Submitted Photo)

The wings they wear are on their shirts, not their shoulders.

As far as Sara Jean Atkins is concerned, however, those who fly for Pilots for Christ (PFC) are real angels.

Last autumn, Sara Jean experienced first-hand the work of the international non-profit organization, which flies time-critical patients and their family members free of charge to get medical treatment and surgery.

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On Nov. 11, 2014, PFC pilots Chris Smith and Harry Stinson flew Sara Jean and her husband, Floyd, a cancer patient battling adenacarcinoma of the lungs, from the organization’s Monroeville base to the renowned University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

“It was our second visit to the center,” Sara Jean recalled. “We’d gone the year before in September, when Floyd was still well enough for us to drive out there. This time, though, we knew we’d have to fly.”

While Floyd had flown a number of times for military and work-related issues, his wife did not want to board any plane unless it was for an important reason. And this, she says, was a very important reason.

“I was a nervous wreck, to be honest, but they took such good, good care of us all along the way,” Sara Jean said. “They helped us with our luggage, gave us a tour of their hangar and provided us with a light breakfast before the flight. And they took the time to pray with us before we boarded the plane.”

They also drove Floyd, who was having a separate issue with a bad knee, right up to the plane PFC had leased for the journey, one large enough to accommodate several more patients and family members.

During the flight, the passengers had access to water and soft drinks, gum, mints, books and magazines, along with children’s DVDs to help entertain younger patients. Sara Jean’s own fear of flying subsided enough that she was able to let go of Floyd’s hand “and take lots and lots of photos!”

After a three-day visit to the cancer center, they flew back to Monroeville.

Sadly, Floyd lost his 18-month battle with cancer Jan. 16, 2015. He had a request he asked his wife to fulfill for him.

“One of Floyd’s greatest desires was to have Pilots For Christ’s Monroeville chapter come to Southside and let us help them with their donations to continue their mission,” Sara Jean said.

“Floyd thought PFC was such a wonderful ministry. He was a deacon at Southside and helping other people was one of his greatest attributes. So he truly wanted to help PFC help others.”

This Sunday, May 31, Floyd’s wish will be granted. Johnny and Rosalyn Sales from PFC will speak at the 5 p.m. service at Southside Baptist Church.

“It is truly such a worthwhile cause and they really depend on donations from churches and civic groups,” Sara Jean said. “I hope many people will come out Sunday night and learn more about the awesome work they do.”

To learn more or to make a donation online, visit their web page at

http://pilotsforchrist.net/ and check out photos and video at their

Facebook page, www.facebook.com/PilotsforChrist.