Haiti Crisis: Business Aviation Responds

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Business Aviation Relief Missions Take Off

As with past natural disasters – Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the wildfires on the West Coast, and the floods in the Upper Midwest to name just a few – the business aviation community has snapped into action to reach those affected by the Haiti earthquake. With the use of aircraft and other assets, relief specialists and supplies have been flown into the disaster area, and victims have been transported out of the earthquake zone. The following describe a sampling of the missions flown.

‘Angels’ Bring Relief to Haiti’s Earthquake Victims
General aviation (GA) played a large role in the days and weeks following the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. “The pilots, the aircraft donors, they were like angels in the depths of hell,” says Ron Gatewood, who served in Haiti as a director of aviation for Air Serv International, the NBAA Member company that uses GA aircraft to deliver relief supplies for almost every humanitarian organization in the world. Gatewood flew a Piper Chieftain for 206 hours in two months, a total of 23,988 miles. He transported 511 people to and from Port au Prince Haiti, and carried nearly 28,000 pounds of supplies and equipment. Learn more.

FJet Management, LLC
Captain James Wilson, pilot for FJet Management, LLC, based in Ithaca, New York, reports that donated flight time in the company's Falcon 2000EX added 18 doctors, nurses and other first-responders to the Haiti response. The plane has also carried thousands of pounds of medical supplies, cycled medical providers back from Haiti and rescued a one-year-old child who was stranded in Port-au-Prince. "We heard many stories from the medical teams coming out, how awful it was for the Haitian people," said Wilson. "They've been through a lot of disaster. But they were so incredibly grateful for the support we brought them."

Generosity from iWorks Gives Lift to Haiti Relief Work
Internet entrepreneur Jeremy Johnson's offer of help for Haiti relief was no token gesture. The Utah-based owner of NBAA Member Company iWorks donated two of his company's business aircraft – a Cessna Citation X airplane and an EC-130 turbine helicopter – to deliver food and medical help. Read more.

King Air Pilot Blazes Path to Haiti’s Small Airports
“Business aviation operators were the first responders to small, rural communities devastated by the earthquake in Haiti,” said Don Campion, president of Banyan Air Service. The company's head of aircraft sales and acquisitions piloted a King Air 300 loaded with supplies to Jacmel to help blaze the trail for other pilots flying to Haiti for the first time. Read the full story.

Toland Associates Coordinates Hundreds of Relief Flights
Lance Toland, owner of aviation insurance firm Lance Toland Associates Global Aviation Insurance Management in Atlanta, took on the mission of contacting his clients and friends across the country to coordinate hundreds of donated flights to Haiti, and thousands of pounds of donated medical and other supplies to support urgently needed relief to the island nation. "There was no hesitation, my clients and contacts just simply asked what needed to be done and when they could get started!" Toland said. Read the full story.

Colorado Auto Dealer Takes to the Air
Colorado Springs auto dealer Bob Penkhus volunteered his company's Beech King Air 350 to transport 16 doctors, nurses and their medical equipment to Haiti. He also enlisted himself as the pilot. "It was an amazing experience," said Penkhus. "I delivered to Haiti the best team of doctors that life has to offer, along with $100,000 worth of donated medical equipment." Read the full story.

Williams International: 'We All Wanted to Do Something'
Williams International, a leading developer and manufacturer of small gas turbine engines, answered the call for first-response help in Haiti soon after the earthquake hit. "Our opportunity came across my computer from NBAA," said Bob Lambert, Williams' flight department manager at Williams' home base near Pontiac, MI. NBAA had posted the connection to the all-volunteer group, Corporate Aircraft Responding in Emergencies. "I immediately called to see if there was a plan I could put together for my boss." Read the full story.

Jet Support Services Waives Maintenance Fees, Donates Supplies
“We saw the need,” said Joe DaGrosa, vice chairman of Chicago-based Jet Support Services, Inc., which not only donated $25,000 and then went out and bought medical and food supplies with much of the money, but also is waiving hourly maintenance fees for their clients whose airplanes are used to fly missions into Haiti. Read the full story.

SeaPlane Aids Albatross Missions. SeaPlane Operations is working with a volunteer team of Albatross seaplane owners, operators and maintainers, and restorers from around the country in partnership with a medical rescue organization to provide relief flights to a hospital in Les Cayes, a seaport in southwestern Haiti. Read the full story.

Tradewind Aviation: Caravans with CARE for Haiti. For one small town in Haiti, life-saving food, water, medical supplies and doctors have been arriving on single-engine turboprop Cessna Caravan business airplanes. They land on a narrow, semi-paved road, dodging trees, debris and stray dogs. "It's pretty hairy," said David Zipkin, co-owner of Connecticut-based Tradewind Aviation, which is donating both airplanes and pilots to the relief effort. Read the full story.

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), Nampa, ID. This NBAA Member organization provides air transportation and communications services in support of missionary and humanitarian efforts in hard-to-reach places around the world. In just one day following the January 12 Haiti earthquake, MAF coordinated the air transport of 69 passengers and 20,000 pounds of relief supplies, beginning with the arrival of a flight carrying 23 relief workers from several aid groups. Read the full story

Amway, Ada, MI. An NBAA Member Company, Amway provided its business jet in support of a flight to transport a medical team and supplies to rescue ten Americans from Haiti's earthquake zone. "Our leadership is committed to giving back to the community in so many ways," director of Amway Aviation Rick Fiddler said. "I was given immediate approval" to begin setting up rescue mission flights to the earthquake-ravaged country. The company also sent 10,000 personal hygiene kits, and its employees donated more than $270,000. Read the full story.

Pilatus Owners and Pilots Association. On the day the earthquake struck Haiti, Laura Mason received more than a dozen calls from international relief organizations for help. As the executive director of the Pilatus Owners and Pilots Association (POPA), Mason was in a unique position to support the relief efforts. She immediately began coordinating humanitarian flights to Haiti by owners and operators of Pilatus PC-12 turboprop aircraft from across the country. "We've had at least 30 POPA members making humanitarian flights to Haiti, many flying repeat missions," said Mason. "One of our members has been flying to and from Haiti for the last two weeks." Read the full story.

Entrepreneur Alan Jenkins, Huntsville, AL. After the National Business Aviation Association, e-mailed a call to action to its Members, Jenkins, a local businessman, donated his Pilatus PC-12 to deliver equipment to provide 100,000 gallons of clean water a day and a satellite imaging system that will allow local doctors to treat earthquake victims from afar. The plane also carried 10 water purifying systems capable of sanitizing 10,000 gallons of water a day. A Cisco TelePresence imaging system being sent over will allow doctors and radiologists in Huntsville to read X-rays and "visit" with Haitian patients and then recommend treatment. Boxes of braces, scalpels, IV medications and splints were part of the cargo. "Our hope is to do this again and again, as long as help is needed,” Jenkins said. “Right now I was wishing the plane was 10 times bigger so that we could send 10 times as much stuff.”

Air Serv International, Warrenton, VA. This NBAA Member Company has worked with almost every nonprofit relief group in the world in a very special way: The non-profit organization uses general aviation aircraft to fly doctors, engineers, volunteers and peacekeeping forces into remote locations and communities. The organization launched a light twin-engine aircraft and crew to Haiti on January 17 in support of World Vision International’s relief operations to the quake-stricken island nation. In addition to organizing its own mission in support of World Vision, Air Serv also coordinated the donation of a FedEx MD-11F widebody cargo charter to ferry an estimated 100,000 pounds of tarps, hygiene kits, blankets, collapsible water containers, and other relief supplies and equipment.

Amway, Ada, MI, an NBAA Member Company, provided its business jet in support of a flight to transport a medical team and supplies to rescue ten Americans from Haiti’s earthquake zone. The company also sent 10,000 personal hygiene kits, and its employees donated more than $270,000.

Clean the World Foundation, Orlando, FL, is an organization that flies to natural-disaster areas to distribute recycled and disinfected soap donated largely by hotels. The organization worked with Corporate Aircraft Responds to Emergencies (CARE) – a volunteer group formed by NBAA and its Members in the 2005 aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – to fly more than 100 doctors to Haiti, along with more than 10,000 pounds of medicine and medical equipment such as painkillers, IV starter kits, splints, surgical kits, table dressings, gloves, peroxide, alcohol, anesthesia, and other supplies. The group conducted two to three flights per day into Haiti’s Cap-Haïtien Airport using Falcon, Beechjet, Citation and other aircraft.

New Flight Charters, Jackson Hole, WY and M&N Aviation, Casper, WY provided schedules, a Challenger 300 business jet, cargo, passengers and logistics to support a January 19 round-trip mission to Haiti. The trip, organized by a charity, evacuated 10 children from an orphanage destroyed in the earthquake. “I can’t tell you how it feels to be able to make a tangible difference in this tragedy,” said Kym Rambo, charter manager for New Flight. “Now those 10 kids will have a life of opportunities here in the U.S.”

Synthes, West Chester, PA, is a global medical device manufacturer of medical devices, which provided unlimited use of its business jet to transport doctors and other medical volunteers to Haiti. The specialists credited use of the airplane with their ability to overcome red tape and quickly getting into Haiti’s earthquake-ravaged Port Au Prince Airport. “Time was really important in getting doctors down there,” said a spokeswoman. “That's why it was so crucial to cut through the red tape.”