Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cowboys & Angels

In Haiti, general aviation pilots are making a measurable difference

How You Can Help Nonprofit accepting donations for flights into Haiti Flying aid into Haiti from Nassau, Bahamas Humanitarian medical organization Flying people and supplies Flying people and supplies Nonprofit sends nurses to Haiti Rebuilding orphanages and flying supplies Medical airlift and supplies to/from Haiti

Bahamas Habitat
Bahamas Habitat is a U.S.-based nonprofit agency that provides housing and disaster relief to the islands of the Bahamas. When disaster struck Haiti, the group’s strong aviation focus allowed it to morph into an airlift operation in mere days. Three compassionate, determined young adults drive this relief effort. Using nothing more than cell phones, laptops, Skype and a conference-room table, they’re coordinating one of the most complex airlift operations in recent history. Each approaches the task of running this behemoth exercise in diplomacy with enthusiasm and dedication. They’re not heroes—just good folks doing their best to help in a difficult situation.

Abraham McIntyre
Abraham McIntyre is in charge of “Haiti Central Command” in Nassau. McIntyre had just graduated from college when the idea of volunteering struck his fancy. He loved the work and decided to stay, rising to the post of executive director. A native of Nashville, Tenn., McIntyre spends days scheduling flights and coordinating the logistics of supplies and people to and from Nassau, Fort Lauderdale, North Carolina and Haiti. He’s a likeable smooth-talker, known to negotiate everything from fee waivers and instant doctor appointments for volunteer pilots to meals and hotel stays. “I think it’s important to do whatever I can,” says McIntyre, “and I love the challenges.”

Cameron King

If McIntyre is the heart of the Bahamas Habitat relief effort, Cameron King is the soul. An assertive and bright 23-year-old with a kind and welcoming smile, she seems to be the calm in the storm. King is fresh out of Auburn University, with a degree in professional flight management. She fell in love with flying after a “discovery flight” her father gave her on her 15th birthday. King is an accomplished pilot who worked as a flight instructor at Auburn for two years. “I think I learned more than I taught,” she laughs. King is here to help people. As a kid she worked in homeless shelters; she has had a passion for service work ever since, and she has spent time in Liberia and West Africa. “This whole thing isn’t about you or me or the organization,” says King. “It’s about looking at a person in need and seeing their true essence.”

Matt Hansen

Flying is in Matt Hansen’s blood. With an aviation heritage that stretches back to his great-grandfather, aviation always has been a driving force in Hansen’s life. After graduating from college and earning all his ratings, Hansen met Cameron King at EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh. Weeks later, Hansen was in Eleuthera with Bahamas Habitat. In Nassau, he works the logistics of the aid flights and helps brief pilots. With his strong background in math and science, he also functions as a technical specialist. “This is our first time doing this,” says Hansen. “We’ve learned how to fly to Haiti, and now we’re improving the logistics of it. We’re moving toward making this a long-term, sustainable thing.”


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