NOAA Taps Turtles Fly Too for Bicoastal Flights

 - November 1, 2019, 9:03 AM

Turtles Fly Too, a volunteer-led charity that arranges transportation for cold-stunned turtles, has strengthened its partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will provide flights on both the East and West Coasts of the U.S.

“It’s a major endorsement,” said Turtles Fly Too founder and president Leslie Weinstein, who also owns Boise, Idaho-based aviation manufacturing firm True-Lock. With the expansion, the charitable organization needs more pilots, aircraft that can carry a turtle-size crate, and volunteers to help with logistics. “They don’t have to be pilots,” he said. “We need volunteers, people who have passion.”

The new agreement will see Turtles Fly Too arranging transportation of turtles and appropriately sized sea mammals on both coasts, from Alaska to Mexico and Canada to the Caribbean. Turtles Fly Too will also fly teams to help with whale rescues, according to Weinstein, and these flights will originate in Monterey, California.

Aircraft for the turtle missions must be large enough to accommodate a crate measuring up to four feet by four feet. This usually means at least a Pilatus PC-12 or Cessna 208 Caravan, he said, “anything with a four-foot door.”

After Hurricane Dorian destroyed Abaco Island and Grand Bahama in early September, Turtles Fly Too also flew 43 missions carrying medical supplies and personnel to the islands and flying patients to the U.S.