Aviators volunteered their resources in a variety of ways in 2020 to help combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
One of the earliest stories AOPA brought you was of Michigan Seaplane flight school owner Cran Jones, who, after learning that hospitals were critically low on personal protective equipment, came up with a plan to prototype, manufacture, and deliver clear face shields to medical professionals. More recently, pilots in Washington drew praise after flying 23,000 cloth face masks to nine different primary locations in two states. “We've been truly blessed to have some pretty amazing people join us in this effort and that has made a big difference,” said Sky Terry, a logistics coordinator with the West Coast General Aviation Response Plan.
Here’s a look back at pilots’ efforts to manufacture or deliver medical supplies.
Shortly after the coronavirus breached the United States, the need for essential personal protective equipment and lifesaving ventilators surged. Airplane manufacturers, avionics specialists, and rocket scientists quickly changed gears by converting assembly lines to the production of face shields or dedicating research-and-development teams to pioneer stop-gap technology for medical ventilator systems.
The outpouring of support for medical professionals, law enforcement personnel, and citizens separated from their loved ones led to aerial flyovers and tributes that were organized as a visible salute to front-line workers and shut ins. Aerial demonstration teams from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds united to recognize “frontline COVID-19 responders and essential workers” with flyovers in multiple cities. GA pilots also gave back to their communities with numerous flyovers plus a five-week, 90-city flight relay that honored essential workers across all 50 states.