General Aviation Mobilizes To Help Bahamas

 - September 6, 2019, 12:21 PM

As Hurricane Dorian churns further north after making landfall this morning near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, many in the general aviation community are looking to support relief missions to parts of the Bahamas such as Grand Bahama Island and the Abacos that experienced “generational devastation" from the Category 5 storm that lingered over the islands for two days. At its worst, Grand Bahama was more than 60 percent submerged, leaving structures at its main airport in Freeport in shambles. More than 30 deaths have been reported, and early calculations estimate damage of $7 billion to the islands.

According to Opsgroup, information about the conditions at Freeport International (MYGF), as well as Leonard M. Thompson International (MYAM), Sandy Point (MYAS), and Treasure Cay Airports (MYAT)—all on the Abaco Islands—are still sketchy. MYGF and MYAM both have 15-nm no-fly zones for non-authorized aircraft.

Due to the crowded airspace and unusual conditions, the organization warns against lone wolf relief flights, advising all pilots to first receive approval to operate from the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and/or the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority.

The Aviation charity Turtles Fly Too, which normally concentrates on transporting stranded sea turtles, reports it has temporarily turned its focus to relief flights, and that one of its member aircraft, a Pilatus PC-12, landed this morning at Freeport with a load of vital supplies.

For those looking to contribute supplies, several Florida airports are serving as collection and staging points, with many FBOs waiving landings fees and offering discount fuel for relief flights as noted on the South Florida Business Aviation Association website. Aviation emergency organization AERObridge noted that needed supplies include bottled water, canned food with flip-top lids, pet food, diapers (baby and adult), baby food/formula, toilet paper, feminine hygiene, tents, bedding, mosquito nets, flashlights, batteries. The organization is accepting donations at Page Field in Fort Myers, Florida, through Sunday. "Aircraft will be leaving Page Field full of supplies by Thursday for the Bahamas," said CEO Marianne Stevenson.