The company, which manages the largest civilian fleet of PC-12 turboprops in the world, is partnering with the Pease Development Authority to coordinate the charity food drive for the second year in a row. Last year’s initial 815-pound payload of nonperishable food has already been eclipsed by more than 6,700 pounds of food collected for distribution. PlaneSense says that amount will provide more than 5,600 meals and the food drive has just begun.
PlaneSense President and CEO George Antoniadis will be behind the flight controls when he delivers a fully loaded Pilatus to Manchester to distribute the food items. The six-seater’s full fuel payload is just over 1,000 pounds, so additional food collections will be transported to the distribution center by car and bus.
During last year’s inaugural food drive, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas met Antoniadis’ Pilatus at a Manchester Airport hangar and joined a conga line of volunteers who pitched in to unload boxes of cereal, mac and cheese, canned goods, and other items. The company hopes to have a similar greeting this year.
“We are thrilled that our friends at PlaneSense have again taken on coordinating a food drive to benefit those in need as we continue to struggle with growing demand,” said Mel Gosselin, executive director of the state’s food bank. “In Rockingham County alone, we’re seeing a 26-percent increase in food distribution over last year, and what we’re able to provide is because of our statewide community, so any gift of support is greatly appreciated.”
Donations during the first year of the food program were mainly collected from employees. After that successful debut, the aircraft provider based at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease was tapped in 2015 to handle food bank contributions throughout Pease International Tradeport’s 3,000 acres and 250 businesses.
PlaneSense’s original community charity event started with a toy drive three years ago, but the company soon realized the lack of food was far more critical to the state’s residents.
“Last year we heard that one in nine people in New Hampshire don’t have enough food, so we wanted to take a different route in our holiday fund raising than the year prior,” PlaneSense Marketing Manager Ashley Chamberlain said. “With a food drive you can fundraise a little longer and people are in the spirit of giving around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah.”
“The [New Hampshire] Food Bank works with more than 400 partner agencies throughout the State of New Hampshire, reaching so many families in need,” Antoniadis wrote in an email to AOPA. “We are pleased to be able to help for a second year in a row, and I am very proud that our employees and their families contribute substantially to this food drive. We are also delighted that our friends at Pilatus Business Aircraft and the Pease Development Authority have given donations to help as well. I look forward to a very successful event this year.”
This year’s food drive began Nov. 2 and will continue through Dec. 7. Donations are accepted Monday through Friday at PlaneSense’s front desk between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.