Mercy Missions

 - January 26, 2010, 3:40 AM

Without hesitation, business aviation did the right thing last month when it donated its people, its expertise and its airplanes to help ease the misery in Haiti. Also without hesitation, NBAA grabbed the baton of coordination this time around with surer hands than it did after Hurricane Katrina.

And also with minimal hesitation, AIN dispatched Stephen Pope to ground zero when the invitation came in from Honeywell PR veteran Bill Reavis to ride along in one of that company’s G450s. Pope’s story on page one of this issue captures not only the logistics of delivering people and supplies to a country in chaos but also some insight into the body corporate and how a swift and compassionate decision at the very top of the hierarchy set the mission in motion. AIN’s momentary hesitation in accepting Honeywell’s offer was our concern that Pope be allowed to participate and not occupy payload pounds or cubic feet in the G450 that could be better allocated. I believe his coverage in this issue of one company’s mercy mission earned him his place on the Gulfstream.

Pope’s participation with Honeywell was not AIN’s only involvement in the Caribbean catastrophe. Robert Tod (married to Vicki Tod, who works in the magazine’s publishing office in Connecticut) is director of operations for aircraft management/charter/FBO company Volo Aviation, and when a GIV owner donated use of his airplane to the earthquake relief efforts, Tod strapped into the left seat of the twinjet and headed toward the chaos with medical workers and supplies. His story, told on page 41, complements the experiences of the Honeywell pilots as both crews launched their missions at short notice.

What struck me was not only the compassion shown by all involved but also the highly public display of exactly what makes business aviation so appealing day in, day out–its nonpareil ability to react swiftly to events and needs, be they catastrophic or commercial, like no other mode of mobility. We can only hope this message was not lost on those who have been so strident in criticizing this industry in recent times.