The look of desperation on the children’s faces in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew devastated the island nation in early October is an image AOPA Corporate Pilot Mark Evans said he will never forget.
“The flying was the easy part. It was the most enjoyable part of it,” Evans said. “Seeing the children with the desperate look in their eyes…seeing the conditions human kind can survive in” left a lasting impression as he helped deliver food to villages that “are either totally gone or totally isolated.”
Evans, a 16,000-hour pilot, has 3,000 hours in Caravans from his early days hauling freight, so “my ability to just get in and get the job done in some not so ideal conditions was a perfect fit for the operation.”
Evans picked up the Caravan in Knoxville and flew to Titusville, Florida, to load boxes of high-energy, high-protein rice and grain that provided five meals each. He flew meals into remote strips and conducted air drops over beaches in the Caravan while a Cessna 206 with Remote Area Medical dropped supplies to villages confined in narrow valleys and canyons.
“When we would do an air drop of food on the beach, by the time we got turned around to go do another drop there would be 200 people there scrambling for the food, a couple hundred people, and you could just see them coming out of nowhere,” Evans said. “It was pretty dramatic, pretty eye opening.
“There’s almost a profound sadness that you feel because a lot of these people are not going to get help, but we’ve gotta do what we can to help.”
Evans said that between the six missions he flew in the Caravan and the missions in the Cessna 206, Remote Area Medical delivered 23,455 meals while he was there.
“We did a large work,” he said, “a great work down there.”
Evans encourages pilots to volunteer their aircraft and piloting services, or donate supplies to groups like Remote Area Medical because aviation is the only way to get help to some of these areas. Evans said that being personally responsible for helping to save lives through these relief operations was the pinnacle of his career.
“This is general aviation, to me, at its best.”