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Fly Boy

Of all the TV and film roles in his long career, Lorenzo Lamas (Hector, B&B) is most proud of an endeavor outside of show business. For years, the actor has participated in Angel Flight, Inc., a charitable organization that provides free, medical-related air transport for those who can’t afford it.“I started flying when my [older] kids were teenagers,” explains Lamas. “They lived in Lake Havasu, Arizona, with their mother, and in order for them to come visit me, they would have to take a commercial flight from there to Phoenix, then another plane to L.A. and they would have to miss a day of school. I decided to get my pilot’s license so I could fly over, pick them up myself, bring them back for the weekend and then fly them home. So [learning to fly] became something I did for them as much as for me.” Then Lamas heard of Angel Flight and was eager to help. “Pilots like myself donate our planes and time to get people around the country for medical treatment,” he says. “I would fly people from their hometowns to the cities where their hospitals were located. I’ve also flown disabled kids to camp because riding in a car would be too uncomfortable for them, but the parents just couldn’t afford the [commercial] airfare.” Lamas shares that getting attached to his passengers is a natural process. “There’s no way that you can avoid getting emotionally involved,” he nods. “There’s plenty of travel time for conversation, so you get interested in their lives and you want to know all about them.”Despite everyone’s best efforts, there are those, of course, who don’t make it. “I flew this lady named Erta from Lake Tahoe a half-dozen times to U.C.L.A. down here for her treatment,” he sighs. “She had a terminal disease and was going through some heavy-duty chemotherapy. Unfortunately, Erta is no longer with us and I was heartsick when I was told she died. But when that happens, you have to move on because there are others who need your help.”And, yes, there are times when passengers are surprised that a famous celebrity shows up as their pilot. “I remember picking up a young girl in Nevada so I could fly her and her parents needed to be flown to the Ronald McDonald in San Diego,” Lamas recalls. “When I got out of the airplane and introduced myself to the parents, they were in complete shock [chuckles].”Not surprisingly, the everyday person assumes someone like Lamas should be jet-setting to movie premieres and exotic vacations, so he occasionally encounters understandable curiosity about his volunteer work. “Sometimes people ask me, ‘Why do you do this?’ ” says Lamas. “I tell them it’s because being a part of Angel Flight feels like I’m doing something important. Acting is relatively important concerning social issues, but flying a person who would normally have to sit in a car for hours means so much more to me.”

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