Refugees boarding the plane
Thanks for the emails in response to this post last week.
The above image comes from a friend of mine who had a birds eye view (literally) of Haiti from the flight deck last week. Knowing that this photo was taken by a camera held in the hands of a good friend brought a whole new perspective.
In his words:
“The Haiti flight was a WestJet mission. We provided the airplane to World Vision Canada, who suppplied 15,000 lbs /$200,000 worth of medical supplies. WestJet also donated $100,000 to the Red Cross. We supplied 2 pilots, 5 flight attendants, 3 of our own ground handlers, and an engineer. We also flew in a Canadian diplomat and CBC/CTV news crews.
The airport was insanity! Tower was run by the US airforce from a tent. We had to break off our approach twice at 800′ for some low level maneuvering because of multiple VFR traffic. On landing, we were greeted by the smell of burning rubber…at first we were worried about the plane. Turns out the Haitians are burning rubber to cover up the smell of decomposition. It was hot.
The Canadian airforce was awesome. We took the first 130 refugees we could find, since the load of people were slated to take out were nowhere to be found. The trip from the Canadian Embassy (where they are processing folks) is about 5 hours. They were manually manifested by SatCom and Blackberry, if you can believe it!
Departure was equally chaotic…no instrument clearance, no departure procedure. We just launched, made our own way out of the country, and mercifully got a clearance from Miami Center without hitting anyone. It ended up being being a 20 hour day for us.
I only saw the tip of the iceberg in terms of the earthquake’s toll on Haiti. All I can say is that I am grateful for all the healthy happy people in my life, and all the things I can do and enjoy. It was one of those perspective adjustments.”
Thanks for the reality check my friend.
Check out these local events:
Fashion Fundraiser for Haiti Thursday, Jan. 28 from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Westin Bear Mountain. Entry is $20 at the door.
Bard and Banker Pub, A Helping Hand, cover by donation, door prizes, silent auction, $5 Blue Buck, Thursday, Jan. 28 from 7pm to 1am.
Help Haiti Fundraiser Dance Clinton Fearon! Saturday January 30th from 7pm-11:30pm at the Victoria Conference Centre.