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.
Piper joins fight for coronavirus relief
Virgin Orbit launches lifesaving ventilator project
Tamarack manufactures medical masks in addition to winglets
Cirrus, Textron, others pivot to coronavirus relief
Zipline pitches drones for US coronavirus relief
More GA manufacturers join coronavirus relief efforts
NASA contributes to coronavirus fight
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.
California Skytypers spread messages of hope
Nation’s transportation workers lauded
Pilot’s flight plans draw messages of hope
Blue Angels, Thunderbirds salute COVID-19 responders
Military, GA flyovers continue to honor health care workers
From idea to overflight in 18 days
Florida pilots perform flyover for WASP Bernice ‘Bee’ Haydu
Operation SoCal Strong turns eyes skyward during Memorial Day morale salute