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Sept. 1, 2017

The nation’s general aviation (GA) community continues to answer the call for assistance in hurricane-ravaged areas of the southern U.S., with owner/pilot organizations and others working to arrange relief flights.

Niceville, FL-based dentist Dr. Jordan Harper saw a post on the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association forums regarding Operation Airdrop, a volunteer group of GA pilots working in coordination with the Salvation Army to distribute supplies in hard-to-reach communities along the Texas Gulf Coast.

“They especially needed toiletry items, and I had boxes of toothbrushes and toothpaste around the office,” Harper explained. “My wife and I then made a run to Walmart for other personal care supplies, and all the diapers and sleeping bags we thought could fit in the airplane.”

On Aug. 31, Harper and his wife flew their Cirrus SR22TN from Destin Executive Airport (DTS) to Texas, where officials at Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport (CXO) have set aside a hangar for use as a distribution center for GA aircraft to drop off supplies for delivery to those in need.

The Harpers are now staying with a friend in downtown Houston, where they’ve seen firsthand some of the damage from the storm. “About a quarter-mile from the house is the Houston Bayou and where I-10 flooded,” he said. “The good news is the water has receded in downtown, and most of the roads reopened [Thursday]. There’s a lot of silt on the roads, and many buildings have damage to their lower floors, but recovery and rebuilding efforts are underway.

“We’d planned to make a trip here anyway,” Harper concluded. “Harvey got in the way, but it also added urgency, and I’m glad to be able to help where I could.”

Others seeking to help are encouraged to visit NBAA’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Database, 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 provided to organizations coordinating relief efforts.