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Mission Aviation Ready to Assist Relief Effort

Earthquake in Haiti causes horrific devastation

Collapsed buildings  in Port Au Prince, Haiti.
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The grim reality of the situation in Haiti.
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Port Au Prince residents walk the streets amid the earthquake ruins.
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Photos by Todd Edgerton, via Will White, MAF

EAA member John Munsell visits with people in La Gonave, Haiti, moments after landing Mission Aviation Fellowship's Cessna 206 in their village in April 2009. See the photo gallery

TSA Coordination Required For Pilots Wishing to Help in Haiti
The Haitian earthquake has brought forth many general aviation pilots wanting to volunteer aircraft to the relief effort. Erik C. Jensen, assistant general manager at the TSA Office of General Aviation Security, informed wrote to EAA and other GA organizations commending this effort, but also stressing that pilots wanting to volunteer their aircraft should first coordinate through the Transportation Security Operations Center. The TSOC contact is Tom Friedman, 703-563-5710.

January 13, 2010In the aftermath of the magnitude-7.0 earthquake that struck the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti the night of January 12, officials there are in the process of assessing the utter devastation, especially the area of Port Au Prince. A massive relief effort will include the efforts of several mission aviation organizations that participated in the Fly For Life program at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last year.

EAA member John Munsell, who lives in Port Au Prince and works as a missionary/humanitarian pilot for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) communicated Wednesday morning with Gene Jordan at MAF headquarters in Nampa, Idaho. Munsell attended AirVenture 2009 and camped on the grounds at Oshkosh.

“Since we found out (about the earthquake) yesterday we know that all the MAF staff are OK,” Jordan said. “The MAF aircraft are based at Port Au Prince. Things are in flux – we’re trying to find out how we can best be of help. As you might imagine there are a lot of calls rolling in.”

EAA’s Brady Lane visited Munsell in Haiti last year to capture images and video of the mission aviation work done by the MAF. Munsell and the other MAF pilots in Port Au Prince regularly support needs in rural villages throughout Haiti and have also provided major assistance after large natural disasters, like the four back-to-back hurricanes that hit the island in 2008.

Jordan said telephone communications are spotty at best, so people on the ground in Port Au Prince and surrounding areas are posting information to social networking sites like Facebook via satellite uplinks. “Most of the immediate needs are in the Port Au Prince area, towards Petion-Ville,” Jordan said. “How and what our aircraft can be best used is not known yet, but they are already in the hardest-hit area.”

Missionary Flights International (MFI), with their turbine-powered DC-3, will be flying in relief supplies, Jordan added, and as MAF has people on the ground in the affected area, it’s likely their role will be logistical initially.

“We will help in any way we can,” he said.

EAA will provide further updates when they become available.

MAF has established the Haiti Disaster and Recovery Fund. To learn more, click here. In addition, Operation Teacup is organizing aviation-based relief efforts – for more information, see this forum post on Oshkosh365.

Listen to the “Fly for Life” presentation from AirVenture 2009 at Theater in the Woods.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

EAA Alerts National Media of GA’s Vital Role in Haitian Relief
As the scope of the damage and suffering from this week’s earthquake became evident, the world’s media raced to that nation to cover the stories and scenes in the aftermath. EAA has been alerting its national media connections about general aviation’s important role in getting essential supplies to Haiti’s citizens.

EAA’s Dick Knapinski was in touch with contacts at major television networks and other outlets to alert them of GA’s availability and immediate efforts to bring food, water, medicine and other needs. GA aircraft often use rural or backcountry airstrips that were not damaged as Haiti’s main airport in Port-au-Prince was in the quake.

Representatives from CBS and ABC, among others, thanked EAA for their news tips and alerted their coverage teams in Haiti for possible coverage and use of GA aircraft in the continuing aftermath of the deadly tremor. It is an opportunity not only for general aviation to help alleviate the suffering of the Haitian people, but as another example of GA’s unheralded good work around the world.

One Indigenous MAF Worker Feared Dead, Two Missing, MAF Reports
In a news release issued by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) late Thursday, the group reported that one indigenous MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) worker is feared dead and two are missing. None of the ministry’s missionary staff in Haiti were injured by the earthquake, according to Ron Wismer, crisis team manager at MAF headquarters in Idaho.  Read more

MAF is withdrawing its non-essential staff and dependents from Haiti, Wismer said. A team of key staff members will remain to coordinate relief efforts. MAF has sent ministry directors to Haiti to assess the needs and set up the ministry’s response.

“We are grateful to God for his protection of our missionary staff,” said John Boyd, MAF president. ”We do not yet know the exact status of all of our Haitian staff members, and ask for your prayers for them and for all the people of Haiti during this time of great sorrow.”

Wismer said that the MAF hangar and airplanes were undamaged in the 7.0 quake, which flattened entire neighborhoods of wealthy and poor alike. But because the earthquake’s epicenter and heart of the devastation was in the capital, Port-au-Prince, none of the planes in MAF’s fleet of three aircraft have been used.

Missionary staff homes sustained only moderate damage. One home’s security wall collapsed on two sides, Wismer said. Missionaries, however, have slept on porches and outside their homes in the past two nights because of ongoing danger of aftershocks.

NBAA Organizes Business Fliers
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), in response to its members who want to volunteer aircraft, supplies and personnel to support earthquake relief efforts, created www.nbaa.org/haiti. NBAA will continually update the site to provide the latest operational information and help match available assets with people and organizations involved in coordinating missions into Haiti.

Air Care Alliance
The Air Care Alliance, a nationwide league of humanitarian flying organizations, has posted Haiti GA response information on its Relief information page, including links to several organizations’ information. Visit www.aircareall.org/relief-info.htm.

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