By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
Disasters tend to ebb from the headlines after a few weeks, but in Haiti, where the devastation is widespread and the desperate need for help persists, general aviation continues to play a major role in the response to the Jan. 12 earthquake. In the immediate aftermath, private pilots were widely advised that the best way they could help was to send money, but in the ensuing days, pilots have found ways to pitch in with their skills and aircraft to make a difference. “The best thing is if a pilot can connect directly with a grass-roots group that has experience working in the region,” Rol Morrow, president of the Air Care Alliance, told AVweb on Wednesday. However, many of those small groups are too overwhelmed to deal with the logistics of getting aircraft where they are needed, he said. Also, smaller single-engine airplanes might not be best suited to the current needs, especially since long over-water legs are needed to get to Haiti. But larger airplanes that can move groups of people, or high-performance large-cabin aircraft, such as Pilatus PC-12s or Cessna Caravans, that can carry a lot of supplies into smaller, outlying runways, are needed. Also, Morrow added, some groups may have needs to transport volunteers or supplies between sites in the U.S., and that’s another opportunity for GA pilots to help.
Pilots who would like to pitch in can get more details and information from the ACA Web site. NBAA also is hosting a registry for aircraft that are available, and has made that list available to volunteer groups that need help. Also, pilots may find connections via local relief groups or state emergency management agencies. An MU-2 pilot in Massachusetts, Scott Martin, has posted a YouTube video asking for pilots to contact him to help with moving supplies from the Dominican Republic to Haiti (click here for a local news story about his work). Martin can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. The Bahamas Habitat relief group also is looking for pilots, according to AOPA; click here for more info.