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Friday, February 12, 2010

Plane & Pilot Flies Supplies To Haiti

Since the devastating earthquake in Haiti four weeks ago, the number of general aviation pilots and airplanes making relief flights to Haiti is increasingly making a positive impact on the boundless need there. We traveled to the relief headquarters of Bahamas Habitat in Nassau, Bahamas, to see for ourselves how the GA community is making a difference in this troubled region.

From the obvious risk and fatigue of long overwater legs to the challenges of navigating with little radio communication, we experienced the realities of flying relief into Haiti. Join us, pilot Michael Mancuso and the Bahamas Habitat volunteer team on sorties into Les Cayes and Jacmel, areas outside of Port-au-Prince where survivors have fled. If you’ve considered joining the armada of pilots donating their time and skill to help out the people of Haiti, follow us as we give you a cockpit-view of the action.

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PLUS!!! Visit our Haiti Relief Gallery to upload photos from your own experience or view others!

Bahamas Habitat relief headquarters in Nassau, Bahamas
Supplies at Bahamas Habitat in Nassau are organized for delivery to Haiti and sorted according to destination
Supplies at Bahamas Habitat in Nassau originate at warehouses within the U.S. and arrive daily in Nassau
Volunteer pilots gather for breakfast and a briefing before launching on supply flights to Haiti
Plane & Pilot's Jessica Ambats and Marc Lee with Bahamas Habitat's Abraham McIntyre and Matt Hansen at the Nassau headquarters
Loading tents into a Piper Navajo for our first flight to Haiti on Feb 8 into Jacmel
Supplies run the gamut from food and medical supplies to tents and toys
1200 lbs of supplies per flight were transported by this Piper Navajo
Volunteers load supplies into a King Air
Cameron King of Bahamas Habitat assists volunteers before each flight
Flight plan from Nassau (MYNN) to a fuel stop at Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (MBPV)
SPOT tracker shows the flight path from Nassau, Bahamas, to Jacmel, Haiti, in a Piper Navajo
Bahamas Habitat provides customized airport information for volunteer pilots
Jessica Ambats and Michael Mancuso en route to Jacmel in Patrick Dolan's Piper Navjao
The Piper Navajo's cabin is filled with 1200 lbs of tents, medical supplies and food
Free food is provided daily for relief workers at Provos, the FBO at Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Approaching Haiti en route to Jacmel (MTJA)
The Garmin 430's terrain screen displays Haiti's many rugged mountains
Low level clouds in mountainous terrain en route to Jacmel
Low level clouds in mountainous terrain en route to Jacmel
The earthquake epicenter in Port-au-Prince is on the flight path to Jacmel
The 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince
With Port-Au-Prince reduced to rubble, tents and tarps serve as shelters
A Canadian C-130 drops off an Oshkosh Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) truck and additional equipment at Jacmel
SPOT tracker marks our arrival at Jacmel, where it is estimated that 70% of the homes were damaged
The Jacmel Airport in southern Haiti has a 3300-ft airstrip
The Canadian military has set up a base at Jacmel Airport
An air traffic controller with the Canadian military oversees flight operations at Jacmel Airport
Our plane, N35580, was one of many supply missions to arrive at Jacmel that day
Relief efforts in progress at Jacmel Airport
Michael Mancuso helps unload the Piper Navajo at Jacmel
Tents are unloaded from Patrick Dolan's Piper Navajo at Jacmel
Patrick Dolan's Piper Navajo at Jacmel Airport
A King Air next to the runway at Jacmel Airport, where it suffered a landing accident
The Canadian military has set up a base at Jacmel Airport
Relief efforts in progress at Jacmel Airport
Relief efforts in progress at Jacmel Airport
A tent city set up by the Canadian Army for those who have lost their homes
It's still unsafe to enter most building so tents are everywhere
Crowded and unsanitary conditions contribute to the many problems in Jacmel, near Port-au-Prince
Cooking fires and scarce water mark most of these tent cities
Different kinds of materials are improvised to make shelters
Young Haitians in the tent city ask us to take their photo
Young Haitians in the tent city ask us to take their photo
Young Haitians in the tent city ask us to take their photo
Damage looks completely random, as rubble lies strewn next to intact buildings.
It is estimated that 70% of the homes in Jacmel were damaged
Rubble everywhere makes streets difficult to use
The Jacmel Hospital suffered extensive damage from the earthquake
Remains of the pediatric ward at the Jacmel Hospital
A structure at the Jacmel Hospital is labeled as unsafe
Patients are housed in tents at the Jacmel Hospital, which suffered extensive damage from the earthquake
We were told that graves were being dug at the Jacmel Hospital, not for the already dead, but in anticipation of future patient deaths
A UNICEF vehicle suffered damage from the earthquake
Initial relief efforts at Jacmel were slow due to lack of supplies and focus on Port-au-Prince
Motorbikes are the most common form of transportation in Jacmel
Riviere de la Cosse in Jacmel
Riviere de la Cosse in Jacmel
A sign in Jacmel reads "Kidnapping = More Hunger"
In January 2010, Choice Hotels announced they plan to open a Comfort Inn in Jacmel, the first chain hotel to be opened there in a decade
Residents of Jacmel look through the gate at Jacmel Airport, which is being used as a base by the Canadian military
Departing Jacmel (MTJA) to get fuel in Providenciales (MBPV) and return to Bahamas Habitat base in Nassau (MYNN)
161.9 nm to go to a fuel stop at Providenciales (MBPV)
The leg from Jacmel to Providenciales takes pilots over water for approximately 120 nm
After sunset, all flights in the Bahamas must be IFR
Our second supply flight, on Feb 9, is to Les Cayes. The airport is not in the database, so we fly direct to the NDB
"How to fly to Les Cayes" by a Bahamas Habitat volunteer pilot
The Caribbean shoreline is always stunning
SPOT track into and from Les Cayes - at its closest point, Haiti is only 45 nm east of Cuba
SPOT track marks our position on the ramp at Les Cayes Airport, where we unloaded supplies from a Piper Navajo and Beechcraft Baron
Les Cayes is 70 nm southeast of Port-au-Prince and features a passenger terminal
Les Cayes Airport is an expansive and picturesque valley, adjacent to a mountain ridge - Runway 8/26 is in good shape.
Young children line the fence at Les Cayes Airport to ask pilots for food
This young Haitian made a stoic pose after asking us to take his photo
Supplies are unloaded from the Navajo and Baron at Les Cayes Airport
Many supplies are bound for an orphanage in Les Cayes
The ramp at Les Cayes is in good condition
After landing at Les Cayes, we discovered a broken spinner bulkhead on the right engine of the Piper Navajo
Marc Lee joins volunteer pilot Tim Ormsby, who flew his Baron from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to help with the relief effort
Each day is a long one for volunteer pilots, who typically fly 8 hours roundtrip from Nassau to Providenciales to Haiti


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