Aviators giving back to communities
General aviation pilots have previously opened their hearts to fill critical supply roles and to provide a bridge to federal assistance after major natural disasters. However, the massive grassroots relief effort that began in March to support and honor health care workers on the front line of the pandemic has continued through December with no end in sight.
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.
Aircraft manufacturers pivot to health care needs
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.
Front-line health care workers, others honored by aviators
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.
Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-winning AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft and photography.