Just seven months ago, more than 500 business aircraft were on the ground in Houston, waiting for their passengers to return from Superbowl LI at NRG Stadium.
This month, dozens of aircraft are on the ground and in the air, ferrying supplies and aid to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, which first made landfall as a Category 4 on Friday, August 25 on Texas’ Gulf Coast. And NRG Stadium has been put to a very different use: providing temporary shelter for those victims.
Harvey dumped an estimated 27 trillion gallons of rain over Texas and Louisiana, according to the weather analytics company WeatherBELL – enough to fill the Superbowl’s former home, the Houston Astrodome, 85,000 times.
Responsible for at least 45 deaths, with an undetermined number of people still missing, Harvey may be the costliest natural disaster in US history, estimated at $190 billion, according to AccuWeather. An estimated 100,000 homes in the Houston area were damaged or destroyed, and 1,000,000 cars were totaled. More than 80% of the homeowners did not have flood insurance.
Area airports were literally underwater, with runways and taxiways flooded, stranding personnel at FBOs and other ground support companies for several days.
And while Houston’s mayor declares the city now “open for business,” it is likely that parts of the US’s fourth largest city and its environs will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
The human need will continue to be staggering for an extended period of time.
It wasn’t until Tuesday, August 29, that Houston’s Hobby Airport reopened with the cautionary note “Cleared to land at your own risk,” as the instrument landing approaches had not been recertified. That didn’t stop business turbine aircraft owners like you – as well as manufacturers, FBOs, and other support organizations –from stepping up to acquire and fly in supplies and personnel, and to set up emergency groundside logistical support to provide aid to the afflicted.
While Coast Guard helicopters were busy rescuing the stranded from rooftops, the first volunteer business aircraft on the scene was a piston twin Cessna 421, carrying supplies to Million Air Houston at Hobby. The first turbine aircraft to arrive was a Cessna Citation II, with relief doctors for the medical center, followed closely by a Beech King Air 350, carrying dialysis nurses critical to serving area patient needs.
But the relief effort has only just begun – continuing support and supplies are critical, as the real cleanup is now underway. Below you will find a list of those who have been and are continuing to help.
If you would like to be part of the relief effort, NBAA’s Operation HERO welcomes both members and non-members to register at: https://www.nbaa.org/ops/hero. Or you can contact one of the companies below, to support their efforts.
Thanks for reading, and for your contributions,
Tel: +1 (508) 655-8188 • firstname.lastname@example.org
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
NBAA has made its HERO database available to two organizations, AeroBridge and PALS (formerly Sky Hope), to connect relief needs with aviation assets. NBAA members as well as non-members can register their aircraft or personal volunteerism at: https://www.nbaa.org/ops/hero. A list of other organizations using aircraft for humanitarian needs is here: https://www.nbaa.org/ops/hero/humanitarian-groups.
As the flood waters continue to recede, NBAA is providing the latest information about the status of airspace restrictions and airport closures on its website.
Par Avion Ltd.
Janine K. Iannarelli, President of Houston-based Par Avion, one of the industry’s leading preowned business jet brokers, volunteered to take the lead on coordinating logistics for the NBAA Operation HERO aircraft. Working in coordination with PALS leaders, Ms. Iannarelli organized efforts to get supplies out of the aircraft, into the trucks, and on the road to where they can do the most good in Greater Houston and the Gulf Coast. She continues to work with owners and FBOs to optimize relief efforts.
Tel: +1 (713)-681-0075
PALS (Patient Airlift Services)
The Patient AirLift Services (PALS) – Sky Hope Disaster Relief Program has been arranging flights to Texas, delivering supplies and relief workers as well as assisting with the evacuation of affected individuals from the area. The work will continue for many days, so if you are a pilot or owner/operator with an aircraft that meets their requirements, and you’d like to help, find out how here.
To make a donation toward the PALS Mission supporting our Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts, visit their website.
Toll-Free: +1 (888) 818-1231
Tel: +1 (631) 694-PALS
Paragon Aviation Group
Paragon Aviation Group is a network of US-based independent FBO operators. Paragon’s corporate offices are collecting funds for the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Please visit www.YouCaring.com/paragon-american-red-cross-hurricane-harvey to make a donation. The Henriksen Jet Center at Houston Executive Airport, a Paragon member company, is headquarters for the Chinook Helicopter Relief Program, operating rescue and relief missions. Its General Manager, Andrew Perry, whose home was flooded, is living with his family in a camper at the airport, and coordinating efforts from that site.
Textron Aviation’s parent company has pledged more than $100,000 in support of the Hurricane Harvey relief effort. In addition, Textron has encouraged its employees to partner in the relief effort by donating to the Red Cross. All employee donations of $25 or more will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the company. The Textron Aviation UPLIFT Employees Fund also is contributing emergency funding and personal assistance for Houston-area employees directly affected by the storm. In addition, the company is in continual contact with the American Red Cross to monitor what is most needed, and where.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation is responding directly to help victims of the Harvey storm. At company headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, cases of water and non-perishable food items are being collected through September 7. In coordination with the American Red Cross, Gulfstream’s Field and Airborne Support Team (FAST) will deliver the items to the Houston area using a truck from its extensive fleet of rapid-response vehicles.
Million Air Houston Hobby is on the front lines of relief efforts. Coast Guard Blackhawk helicopters used its ramp as a staging area for its airlift operations, when all area airports were closed. The company has been collecting, storing, and loading supplies for major shelters and hospitals. Now that there is clear road passage from Hobby Airport to the shelters at George R. Brown Convention Center, the Toyota Center, and the NRG Center, as well as the Texas Medical Center, delivery of supplies and transport of volunteers is being provided both by the company and by its onsite rental car vendors, who have offered the use of more than 20 cars and drivers.
Jetex has collected more than 18,000 pounds of much needed supplies to be flown to Houston. Currently stored at Fontainebleau Aviation at Opa-Locka Airport, Jetex continues to solicit aid from the South Florida Aviation community to collect and transport the much-needed supplies for Harvey victims, including personal hygiene items, baby formula and diapers, bedding, and non-perishable dry food. Supplies can be delivered to Fontainebleau Aviation.
Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI) is waiving flight hour fees for its clients who donate aircraft flight time to the relief effort. In addition, JSSI is contributing $10,000 and matching every flight hour credit with a dollar-for-dollar donation to the Red Cross.
JSSI President and CEO Neil Book stated: “We hope that by waiving these fees we can make it a little easier for our clients to utilize their business aircraft and provide a lifeline to the people and communities in crisis.” Customers who have donated aircraft flight time or plan to do so can contact their JSSI Client Relationship Manager for more information and to report relief flight hours.
Jet Aviation Houston Hobby reopened to based and transient aircraft on Wednesday afternoon, August 30. The FBO suffered only minor damage, and onsite employees remained in place, providing logistical support and unloading relief supplies from inbound aircraft into ground vehicles delivering to area shelters. Brandon Davis, Director of FBO Services, reports that many shelters provided their own trucks and vans to collect and deliver supplies. Many of Jet Aviation’s fleet of managed charter aircraft continue to be part of relief efforts as well, as client owners are volunteering their aircraft to ferry supplies and personnel from other FBO locations to relieve the Houston personnel. Jet Aviation continues to survey its client base for aircraft owners willing to provide aircraft to transport relief supplies to Houston.
Jet Aviation – Houston Hobby
Tel: +1 (713) 358-9100
Jet Aviation Flight Services
Tel: +1 (201) 462-4100.
Working in coordination with PALS, Dassault Aviation flew supplies over Labor Day weekend from KEDC (Austin Executive) to KORG (Orange, TX). Orange had no fuel or electricity, and most stores were closed. In 36 hours, Dassault delivered about 10,000 pounds of supplies, including 1500 meals, energy bars and rice, two pallets of bottled water, two pallets of diapers, medical supplies, air mattresses, hygienic needs, clothes, blankets, cleaning supplies, and pet supplies. Andrew Ponzoni, Senior Communications Manager, reports: “In the four hours total we were on the ground, I probably saw 40 other aircraft doing the same, mostly smaller aircraft. I saw a customer’s Falcon 2000LX as well as Bluebonnet Bell – a 1945 era C47 from the Commemorative Air Force.” He adds: “Patient Airlift Services deserves a lot of credit organizing general aviation during these [tough] times.”
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