May 21, 2012

On June 3, government officials will conduct a full-size simulated hurricane with high winds, damaging hail and extensive flooding in South Carolina. The mock storm will ravage the coast between Savannah, GA and Hilton Head, SC on June 3 and track rapidly up the Georgia/South Carolina border before moving out to sea on June 4.

In the simulated hurricane’s debris-scattered wake, several dozen federal, state and local agencies will work together to minimize loss of life and prevent disease. Contributing to these efforts will be no fewer than eight non-governmental organizations, including – for the first time – a coordinated coalition of volunteer general aviation (GA) pilots and aircraft directed by AERObridge, the non-profit group that coordinates aircraft donated for crises such as this.

“This is just a preparedness exercise, of course,” said Marianne L. Stevenson, executive director for AERObridge. “But we’re asking GA pilots and companies with business aircraft to participate in this simulation to help show the strength and value of GA in emergencies.” Companies or individuals wishing to register their aircraft for the June 3 exercise may do so by visiting and clicking on “join us” and then clicking on the tab “register your aircraft.” The primary staging area will be South Carolina’s Bamberg County Airport (99N), with jet aircraft landing at the larger Orangeburg Municipal Airport (OGB).

Pilots participating in the statewide exercise are asked to bring a case of bottled water, three ready-to-eat meals requiring no heating or refrigeration, and a quart of 100 or 15W50 weight aviation oil. The items will be stored at AERObridge regional headquarters at Bamberg County Airport for use if a hurricane emergency does strike this year.

“NBAA Member Companies and others have always been generous with their business aircraft in real, life-threatening emergencies,” said Ed Bolen, NBAA president and CEO. “They’re rarely seen, but they’re lifesavers for people in need.”

The South Carolina hurricane disaster exercise, which is directed by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, is held annually near the start of the hurricane season to give government and private relief organizations a realistic way to practice their plans before a hurricane hits. Although AERObridge has participated in national drills before, this is the first time that its participation will be evaluated on a state and local scale.

Business aircraft operators also are encouraged to register their aircraft with NBAA’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operator (HERO) Database, so basic information from the database can be provided to organizations coordinating relief efforts in the wake of natural disasters. Learn more about the NBAA HERO Database.