Over the past two months, the business aviation community has mobilized in response to devastating storms impacting Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico. They were aided by a resource established by NBAA to connect relief organizations to operators and personnel able to help at a moment’s notice.
NBAA’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) database is a list of people in the business aviation community who are part of disaster-response mobilization efforts. In the aftermath of major crises, basic information from the database is made available to organizations coordinating relief efforts.
In the days prior to Hurricane Harvey making landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast, dozens of business aviation pilots had already volunteered to transport specialists and supplies into disaster-stricken areas. Two Texas aircraft brokers – Janine Iannarelli, president of Par Avion Ltd. and Robin Eissler, COO of jetAVIVA – worked together to get needed supplies to victims in the Corpus Christi and Houston regions.
To assist with these and other relief efforts, Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport (CXO) made a hangar available as a distribution center for general aviation aircraft to drop off supplies for delivery to storm victims, while Dassault Aviation called upon one of its Falcon 900 large-cabin business jets to transport badly-needed supplies for a Texas community ravaged by the storm.
“We must be dedicated to helping each other wherever we can, because we have the perfect tool available to do so,” said Andrew Ponzoni, the company’s senior communications manager. “Business aviation allows us to get what is needed most, to exactly where it’s needed most.”
Even as Harvey subsided, there was no time to rest as the next powerful storm, Hurricane Irma, moved through the Caribbean and Florida. Efforts initially stood up in response to the earlier storm quickly transitioned to assisting victims in those areas, including Operation Airdrop, a volunteer group of GA pilots organized through social media to coordinate relief flights.
At this writing, these and other relief organizations within the aviation community are mobilizing to assist with recovery efforts following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. In such times of crisis, business aviation has always rallied to help those in need, contributing to relief efforts in profound and meaningful ways.