For many residents of the Gulf Coast stretching between the Florida Panhandle and Galveston, Texas, the sound of helicopter rotors overhead serve as a frequent reminder of the importance of oil exploration to the region’s ecomony.
Traffic is picking up and hangar space is returning to New Orleans Lakefront Airport, more than six months after Hurricane Katrina caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage. Refurbishment of Million Air’s 1930s-era art deco Moffett hangar should conclude by the middle of this month. Million Air will also offer space in the 22,000-sq-ft former Atlantic Aviation hangar, due to open next week.
Five FBOs and a New York City heliport have joined the Atlantic Aviation chain en masse, bringing the network to a total of 18 locations. The new FBO locations include Burlington, Vt.; Gulfport, Miss.; Louisville, Ky.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Wilmington, Del. The deal also includes the East 34th Street Heliport in New York City.
“The NBAA and its members join with the rest of America in expressing our sorrow and concern for the people affected by this terrible tragedy,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “It is unfortunate that we have no choice but to move our convention. However, we look forward to returning to New Orleans when the city is again ready to accommodate our event.”
In the days following Hurricane Katrina, I watched the news and felt helpless. There were so many people in need and no “quick” way to respond. After seeing a segment about babies being airlifted out of hospitals and being separated from their parents, I jumped into action. I was certain that Jet Quest, the company I work for, could find these parents and get them to their children by flying them in our airplane.
Words and pictures cannot fully convey what has happened to the city of New Orleans. Several miles away at 5,500 feet, the air in the cabin of the Cessna 172 told us we were approaching the city before the haze let up enough for us to see it. Matt Thompson, a contract King Air 350 corporate pilot based in Baton Rouge, was flying the aircraft.
As Hurricane Katrina blew into world headlines for the human misery it caused on the U.S. Gulf Coast, NBAA faced a monumental decision all its own: where to hold its annual convention, which was scheduled to take place in the ravaged city a little over two months after the storm rolled through.
Sensitive to a perception that it was slow to take a leadership role in business aviation’s Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, NBAA outlined for AIN its actions in the aftermath of the storm:
When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, the business aviation community swung into action to help those affected by the natural disaster. Not long after the hurricane made landfall on the morning of August 29, many aircraft operators called the Red Cross and offered to airlift in supplies or do humanitarian transports. Their offers were rebuffed; instead, the relief agency simply asked for donations.
Bell 206B JetRanger, New Orleans, Sept. 7, 2005–A JetRanger photo flight operated by Helitrans of Manvel, Texas, crashed while maneuvering within the New Orleans temporary flight restricted area established after Hurricane Katrina. At “approximately 500 feet and 40 knots in a left turn,” the JetRanger’s nose “pitched up and began to turn right.”