January 19, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
These Saab 2000 aircraft with crews were loaned to Missionary Flights International by Hendrick Motorsports and will fly through January.
Hendrick Motorsports has loaned two 45-passenger team airplanes and 10 volunteer staff members, including pilots, to Missionary Flights International (MFI) for Haiti relief efforts. The team also provided a special exemption from the FAA to allow the twin-engine turboprop Saab 2000 aircraft to operate into Port-au-Prince.
The airplanes will transport both MFI support groups and supplies directly into Haiti. The Hendricks volunteers include aviation director Dave Dudley, who will oversee operations; five captain-level pilots; one operations manager; one mechanic; and two flight attendants.
No timeline has been set for how long these missions will continue. The Hendrick organization is covering all costs of the flights.
Some of the sponsors of Hendricks NASCAR cars have donated money—PepsiCo has donated $1 million; GoDaddy.com has donated $500,000; Lowe’s has donated $1 million; General Motors has donated $100,000; and Bank of America has pledged $1 million. None of the funds are linked to operation of the loaned aircraft.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
A new FAA policy on obstructive sleep apnea that addresses many of the concerns raised by AOPA is scheduled to take effect March 2.
AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association have jointly filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the ongoing legal battle over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
AOPA worked with the flight training industry and FAA to quickly resolve a problem that suddenly put many rating applications on hold.
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