Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Second Relief Mission Complete

I did another Haitian supplies run on Superbowl Sunday. This was a mission with Bahamas Habitat to take medical supplies and food from North Carolina to Nassau, Bahamas. We used this mission as SIC training for my friend Michael, who will accompany us on a transatlantic flight in April. Michael has a huge amount of turboprop experience and more General Aviation Atlantic crossings than anyone I know, but limited jet experience.

The flight from North Carolina to the Bahamas was easy using the Atlantic Routes. These routes are as busy or busier than a typical Northeast corridor, as they cut through many of the Military airspaces all the way down the East Coast and save hundreds of miles compared with hugging land. The furthest we were away from an airport was 176 miles, a reasonable distance in a twin. Of course, we had a life raft, PLB, life jackets, etc. on board just in case.

If you are a pilot, have a plane, and want to contribute to the Haiti relief efforts, I recommend Bahamas Habitat. They were very well organized. There were staff waiting to load and unload the plane at both ends. Loading and unloading took less time than paying the fuel bill! They helped with whatever we needed whether it be Bahamian customs, or dealing with local FBOs. BH pilots fly into all the secondary airports of Haiti, besides Port au Prince, thus helping many who do not otherwise have access to supplies and medical aid. BH have a huge inventory of items to move either from North Carolina or more piston friendly FXE, so whatever size aircraft you have, there's a way to contribute. They have already flown 150 missions into Haiti, sometimes up to 25 in a single day. The only downside: they do ask that volunteers have "a strong christian faith", which I'm not. It was a case of "don't ask; don't tell."

The return was via KILM, Wilmington, NC. This is the most northern Airport of Entry coming from below 30° latitude. Conveniently, customs is open 6am-10pm, 7 days a week (the latest Guide to Private Flyers, dated 2008, lists only M-F 8am-6pm). Well worth the $50 customs fee.

After Michael completed his required three SIC legs, I flew the last leg home with Neil. Since it was over 9 hours of flying, Neil was getting a little tired. Nothing like waking up your co-pilot by testing the fire warning system. I made it home to catch the last quarter of the Superbowl.

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