Pilots of Haiti relief flights honored

August 19, 2010

The National Aeronautic Association and Air Care Alliance will honor volunteer pilots who helped with the Haiti relief effort in the wake of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake with the 2010 National Public Benefit Flying Awards on Sept. 16 during the “Above and Beyond” ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

“All volunteer pilots and other volunteers conducting flight in support of the Haitian relief efforts” will receive the Teamwork Award, according to the two organizations.

Bahamas Habitat, whose volunteers flew more than 400 missions to Haiti after the earthquake, will be honored with the Outstanding Achievement in Public Benefit Flying, and one of its volunteers, Gene Schmidt, will receive the Distinguished Volunteer Pilot Award. The Distinguished Volunteer Award will go to Capt. Justin Ogden of the Civil Air Patrol’s Southwest Region Arizona Wing.

General aviation proved to be a vital resource in the relief efforts, as pilots volunteered their skills, time, and aircraft to deliver supplies and medical personnel to areas others couldn’t reach. The versatility of GA aircraft allowed pilots to operate in and out of remote airstrips and even on dirt roads.

Earlier this year, the House and Senate passed a resolution honoring GA’s efforts. According to the resolution, GA made more than 4,500 relief flights in the first 30 days after the earthquake.