March 15, 2010
By AOPA ePublishing staff
In the wake of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, general aviation pilots immediately sprung into action, and GA has moved an astonishing quantity of supplies and aid workers to the ravaged nation. However, the changing situation in Haiti may make it more difficult to fly your own aircraft there to help, and pilots are strongly encouraged to contact a coordinating organization before departing for the island.
Since the earthquake, many outlying airports such as Jacmel have been operating as international airports. As foreign military personnel who have been operating these airports return home, however, some local officials do not believe they can continue international operations. When outlying airports return to domestic operations, international arrivals will have to land at Port-au-Prince or Cap-Haitien to clear customs before continuing to their destination, increasing time and requiring payment of additional fees.
The most recent status reports AOPA has received for each organization are below and will be updated as appropriate; please contact the organizations directly for more information.
If you are interested in getting involved in the relief efforts, here are some tips to help you get started.
Contact groups facilitating relief flights to Haiti
To find out more about general aviation disaster relief and connect with other volunteer organizations, see the Air Care Alliance disaster relief page.
Fly relief supplies to drop-off locations in Florida
Pilots who are not able to fly supplies to Haiti might consider donating the cost of a flight to Haiti in their GA aircraft to an established organization that is helping with the relief efforts. However, pilots should thoroughly research any organization before donating money.
Michael Rettig of The Rettig Family Foundation said his organization has plenty of cargo and a steady stream of airplanes, but is looking for additional funds for fuel. Pilots can donate at the “Pilots for Haiti” Web site.
Plan your flight: eAPIS requirements
When planning your flight to Haiti or the Dominican Republic to aid in the relief efforts, be sure that you understand and follow the requirements of the Customs and Border Protection’s Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS). Customs has updated its travel requirements in the Caribbean because of the Haiti crisis. Download the updates.
If you’ve never used eAPIS before, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation offers a free online course, Understanding eAPIS—A Pilot’s Guide to Online Customs Reporting , to familiarize you with the procedures.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
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