Haiti

Single-engine planes ferry medical supplies to Haiti

Posted January 18, 2010

— Three single-engine planes took off from the Johnston County Airport on Monday, hauling vital medical supplies to Haiti to treat victims of last week's massive earthquake.

The North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church has collected 32 tons of donated items since last week, from blankets to diapers. Medical supplies like antibiotics, bandages and catheters were the first to be boxed up and loaded onto planes for shipment.

Supplies airlifted to Haiti from Johnston County Supplies airlifted to Haiti from Johnston County

"It's just the right thing to do," volunteer Jim Lee said. "I think (one) airplane can save 100 to 200 lives. I don't know them, but somebody does."

Donations took off after people heard the story last week of Helen Little, the 79-year-old great-grandmother who was taking part in her 47th mission trip to Haiti when the earthquake hit last Tuesday. She wasn't injured, but she returned to the Triangle last Friday to wait for the situation in the country to stabilize.

The Rotary Clubs of Central North Carolina in District 7710 and Bahamas Habitat, a Christian relief organization, helped organize the flights, and the pilots are donating their aircraft and time to get the supplies to Haiti.

"The pilot talked me into it," co-pilot Jack Faires said. "He called me up (Sunday) and said, 'Hey, are you looking for an adventure?' I said, 'Why not?' We help some people out on the side, so it's a good deal."

More planes loaded with supplies are expected to take off from Johnston County later in the week. They plan to overnight in Nassau, Bahamas, and then fly to rural areas of Haiti – they can land on small airstrips instead of the clogged airport in Port-au-Prince –  to deliver relief supplies.

"We'll continue to take supplies in and bring people out," Faires said.

The NCCUMC, which is still collecting donations of relief supplies for Haiti at a Clayton warehouse, 501 Atkinson St., is working on other plans to deliver the aid to the ravaged nation as quickly as possible.

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  • Bendal1 Jan 19, 1:59 p.m.

    It's wishful thinking to expect the 82nd or any other military unit to provide security at these "small airstrips" those planes are planning to fly into. They're probably more used by drug lords than anything else, and the military has more pressing needs at Port au Prince then to guard a runway for some single engine plane to bring in fewer supplies than one Blackhawk can carry. While it sounds like a noble undertaking, I wish these groups would just donate money to the Red Cross or some other relief agency that's already there rather than creating yet another headache for the overstressed officials down there trying to help.

  • TomLynda Jan 18, 7:52 p.m.

    "The Rotary Clubs of Central North Carolina in District 7710 and Bahamas Habitat, a Christian relief organization, helped organize the flights, and the pilots are donating their aircraft and time to get the supplies to Haiti"

    You can bet they have the clearances to get in and out and back into this country. I know a lot of pilots and none of them wouldn't do it without the necessary authorizations.

    I wish them well, and by not going to the main airport in Haiti, the supplies will get to the people a lot faster. I'm sure that some US Marines or some of the 82nd will provide security at the small landing strips.

  • BurninStick Jan 18, 7:44 p.m.

    WHAT are you guys TALKING about? As if it went down this way: 'Hey Billy Bob, wanna fly down yonner ta Haytea nex week even ifn it don make no financhal sense?' 'Shore thang Ralf Earl. I aint shore we can make it on one tanka gas tho. But shoot, dadgummit, les jes do it anyolhow.' ...ya dang armchair stick jockeys, men of such noble concerns always plan further out than the length of their noses.

  • alwayslovingu30 Jan 18, 5:54 p.m.

    It really cost alot to get supplies flown into the area.Just immagine the cost an the mitary dont cut you any breaks on hauling things for you its better if you can get in to fly in your self an drop the supplies.In A Earlier post from wral it says that alot of hatians were shouting white guys get out,If it wasnt for the men over there they would starve many nationalities are there helping but it seems that the People who live there are being Abit racial.If they want them out lets pull them out an they can fin for their selves.Its sorry to tell help to leave you are A bad person to do so

  • paginasecunda Jan 18, 5:40 p.m.

    As a pilot, those are all very valid points, and it would be reckless beyond belief to fly that mission without having those questions answered. I cannot imagine that they would be taking off without the clearance and plans to get into and back out of the country. Non-purpose fields may be accessible by certain small aircraft, but most small aircraft in this area are not designed for flying into unknown fields. The aircraft that are are more likely to be flying around Canada or Alaska. As for fuel, it should be very doable in many small aircraft to fill up at islands en route on the way there and back. In terms of security, having thousands of US soldiers in the airport Port-au-Prince probably covers that aspect of it fairly decently. I really wish I could be flying an airplane down there with them, but unfortunately I'm still only a student.

  • Chuck U Farley Jan 18, 5:29 p.m.

    These planes require a lot less runway than a C-17 and can get there a whole lot cheaper.

    Not sure about this group, but I know pilots are using roads as runways there. I would imagine they have some means of keeping them clear.

  • miseem Jan 18, 4:37 p.m.

    I hope the idea is to land outside of the airport at Port-Au Prince, in nearby towns. Some smaller prop planes can land in a fairly level field or a road if they have to. My concern would be security & safety. Will there be a rush to a plane with a prop spinning? Will people mob and damage the plane? Lastly, will they have fuel to get there and back. They sure are not getting any fuel in Haiti.

  • Rolling Along Jan 18, 4:04 p.m.

    Hope they have their clearance to land. Seems it would have been more efficient to load all of the supplies on a few skids and have a C17 haul it in.