“As soon as I heard about the earthquake, I asked the company for permission to volunteer our help,” said Rick Fiddler, director of Amway Aviation, at the company’s headquarters in the township of Ada, MI, near Grand Rapids.
“That’s one of the wonderful things about working for Amway,” he said. “Amway is a unique company. Its founders are unbelievably generous with their aircraft and community service. We use our helicopter (a twin-engine Sikorsky) routinely on search and rescue missions because we’re near Lake Michigan. After Hurricane Katrina, we flew seven or eight flights to the Gulf area ferrying doctors and supplies.”
“Our leadership is committed to giving back to the community in so many ways,” Fiddler said. “I was given immediate approval” to begin setting up rescue mission flights to the earthquake-ravaged country.
As of January 21, Fiddler and his flight department have carried out three flight missions to Haiti in the company’s Gulfstream V, mainly flying medical teams and their equipment and supplies in, and when possible, evacuating missionaries and other workers needing to return to the United States.
He estimated that “over multiple flights we’ve transported thousands of pounds of medical supplies to the region. Even more important, we’re transporting medical professionals – surgeons – to the area,” Fiddler said.
“It’s very rewarding for us,” he said. “We’ve had pilots waiting in line to volunteer.”
Three to four more missions are planned for the last week in January. “We’ve been adding to the passenger list by the day,” Fiddler said, as word circulates among surgery specialists in Michigan, and as far away as California and Missouri. “Surgeons are the number one need right now. Our first flight on January 18 was with 12 medical staff and their supplies.”
Fiddler said he flew a mission in the G5 on January 19, and reported that the Port-au-Prince airport “has a fine 9,700-foot runway in very good condition. But flying over the city itself – it looks like a war zone. Everything is totally devastated. There are Blackhawk helicopters everywhere, and lots of military cargo planes coming and going.”
“One of the doctors told me it was much worse than he’d expected,” Fiddler said. “He said he had been involved with Katrina, and that this was far worse – worse than anything he’s ever seen” in terms of deaths and devastating injuries.
Amway is a global leader in the direct-selling industry, and manufactures, markets and distributes over 450 consumer products worldwide.