Hop-A-Jet Worldwide Jet Charter, based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, began flying relief missions to Port-au-Prince airport on January 13, one day after the devastating 7.0 earthquake struck the capital city. Although initially hampered by air traffic snarls, congested runways and fuel shortages, the company has completed seven round-trip relief flights – one on January 13, two on January 14, two on January 16 and two on January 17. The missions were flown in a Challenger 604 donated by the aircraft owner, Mr. Hank Asher, a businessman residing in Boca Raton, Florida.
The aircraft is transporting University of Miami medical school doctors and nurses, search and rescue teams, medical supplies and food and water to the stricken island nation and is returning with severely wounded quake victims for treatment at South Florida trauma units. Additional flights are scheduled today and throughout the remainder of the week.
“Our goal is to do at least two flights per day with this aircraft. The biggest problem has been airport congestion and limited ramp space,” said Barry Ellis, president of Hop-A-Jet Worldwide Jet Charter at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. “Now that the U.S. military has taken over airport operations in Haiti, things are getting better. We are told the airport will shortly be able to handle 90 – 100 flights per day.”
In another effort, the company sent two Lear 60 jets to Port-au-Prince on Thursday night with teams trained in search and rescue efforts. Flight crews also flew to Santo Domingo, in the neighboring Dominican Republic, and pick-up eight Lynn University students, who were working in Haiti when the quake struck. This flight was donated by another Hop-A-Jet aircraft owner. In this case, the owner prefers to remain anonymous.
“What we need now are twin-engine, transport category, heavy-lift helicopters that are day/night VFR/IFR capable,” said Ellis. “Returning communications to the island is a priority. The machines will be used primarily to affect repairs to damaged cell phone towers. If you have suitable equipment available for immediate deployment to Haiti please let us know.”
Ellis continued, “Helicopter crews, maintenance and logistics support, external load rigging, tooling etc. are mission critical. Experience with construction support and/or disaster recovery operations will also be very helpful”.
The cell tower repair project will be directed, administered and funded by the cell phone service provider. If you have suitable equipment, contact Steve Dority at Hop-A-Jet Worldwide Jet Charter at +1 (954) 771.5779 or SDority@hopajet.com.
Ellis concluded, “The U.S. General Aviation community has been vilified by politicians and the media in recent months. Our industry has been portrayed as extravagantly expensive and of no practical value – except as a luxury for self-serving rich people who do not care about anyone else. The truth is private aviation makes difficult travel possible. It allows American companies to conduct business efficiently and competitively in a struggling world economy. Because of our ability to go anywhere, anytime, our industry is in a position to provide substantial assistance to the Haitian relief effort – and that’s exactly what we’re doing”.
Source: CHARTER X