“Chaos.” That is how Alex White of rural Gaylord described the scene in Haiti. The pilot flew medical personnel to the earthquake-torn country last week and was on “standby” Monday to make a return trip.
White is a chief pilot for Downs Foods, a poultry processing plant in Mankato. The company offered up its private jet for the trip to Haiti. Downs Foods also donated food.
Along with his co-pilot, White flew Downs Foods’ corporate jet from Miami to Haiti last Wednesday. Passengers on that trip included two doctors, two nurses and an Army medic, according to White.
White said he stayed on the tarmac at the Haiti airport. He was scheduled to fly doctors back to the United States but, by the time those doctors were located, it was too late. White said he and his co-pilot wanted to get out of Haiti before nightfall because they would be flying with limited communication over the Dominican Republic.
The Downs Foods eight passenger jet, on its return trip to the U.S., was loaded with nurses and former Army medics. White said two Haitians, who had a visa and green card to get into the U.S., were also aboard.
When The Gaylord Hub spoke with White on Monday, he was on “standby” to make a return trip to Haiti. He reported that it was tough to secure a spot to fly into the country because the focus now is on evacuation. According to White, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken over air traffic in Haiti. He believes military flight missions are taking precedence over others at this time.
White said he was amazed at the chaos upon arriving in Haiti last week. He said the situation reminded him of the aftermath following Hurricane Katrina which devastated the Gulf Coast five years ago. According to White, there appeared to be a lack of cooperation between the United Nations and the Haiti organizations.
White is a 1991 graduate of Minnesota State University’s aviation program. He has been a pilot for Downs Foods for eleven years and is responsible for flying company executives between various company offices.
White was asked to fly people into Haiti through Agape Flights, an independent Christian ministry based in Venice, Fla. Since the earthquake disaster, Agape Flights has been making multiple flights to Haiti each day with the use of donated and leased planes. Agape Flights serves 130 missionary families in Port au Prince and 200 missionary families in Haiti, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic.
The Associated Press reported this week that more than 150,000 people have been killed in the earthquake. The overall death toll is unknown as hundreds of thousands of bodies are believed to still be buried in the rubble.
Source: GAYLORD HUB