Hurricane Harvey Airlift
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we were approached by the PALS / Sky Hope Network about helping to facilitate an airlift of supplies to those devastated by the hurricane in ravaged East Texas. The goal was to help bridge the crucial gap between the disaster and the time that it takes for the Red Cross and National Guard to deploy aid. Naturally, we were ready to do whatever we could to help.
This link is a video that provides an overview of the operation: Hurricane Harvey: Private Jet Missions
I'm still working on the final numbers, but at this point, it appears we had at least 57 aircraft participating in the airlift, 14% of which were from Georgetown Airport. They ranged in size and included a Dassault Falcon 900, several Cessna Citations and Beech King Airs to small Cessna 172s and homebuilt aircraft. We flew a minimum of 124 missions directly into the disaster area delivering much-needed supplies to areas including Corpus Christi, Houston/Beaumont and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Aircraft came in from all over the nation accounting for a total of 253 aircraft movements in support of the airlift.
We slashed our margins and both Avfuel Corporation and the City of Georgetown pitched in to keep the cost of the relief effort low. The City of Georgetown even came in over the Labor Day holiday to make sure our trucks didn't run dry. Over 10,269 gallons of deeply discounted fuel was made available in support of the mission. All the fuel was generously paid for out of the pilots' own pockets. They also donated countless hours to fly their 'expensive to operate' airplanes to help our fellow Americans in their time of need. The bulk of this generous sacrifice was through the Labor Day Holiday weekend. Supplies were funneled through faith-based organizations throughout Central Texas including the Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) then sorted at Celebration Church here in Georgetown and delivered to the airport.
According to Jefferson and Orange County State Representative Dade Phelan, lives were saved due to the generous outpouring of help from Texans in Williamson and Travis Counties and the surrounding areas.
We delivered the critical support necessary immediately after the hurricane. For example, an urgent call came in from Beaumont that there were two dehydrated babies that were waiting to be evacuated. They said it was an urgent situation and they desperately needed help for these infants. Within 30 minutes after the call, a plane loaded with formula, infant water, and other baby supplies took off and one hour later, the plane was landing and providing aid to the infants in Beaumont. This is a great example of what General Aviation (GA) can do. Fast and nimble, the GA community came together to respond more quickly than large national organizations can do immediately after a disaster like this. We could land on small airstrips in areas that were inaccessible by vehicle to get aid to the hardest hit areas.
Even competitors worked side by side to do anything they could to help. AeroJet's Larry Wood came over to GTU Jet with his line crew to help manage the overwhelming number of aircraft on our ramp. Larry donned GTU Jet colors and logos and managed the ramp like the pro that he is, giving Brad and other GTU Jet team members, who all performed admirably, a chance to get something to eat and sit in the air conditioning for a while. Naturally, I had to go to AeroJet to return the favor donning his colors. The resulting photo is framed and prominently displayed in both of our offices.
Whether FBO competitors like GTU Jet and AeroJet, or competitive brokers like Charlie Bravo Aviation and jetAVIVA, we all pitched in to help in the effort. I'm proud to be associated with such an outstanding group of aviation professionals. It was gratifying to see the entire aviation community and communities throughout Central Texas come together to help during the disaster. Whether it was the local community donating goods, organizations like ADRN and Celebration Church providing logistics, local businesses like United Rentals donating equipment, area restaurants feeding volunteers and providing food to feed those in the disaster area, volunteers managing the flow of supplies and helping to load the airplanes, the pilots donating their aircraft and skills, we all played a role.
This month I'd like to say, thanks for everything Central Texas. We truly couldn't have done it without you!
VOLUNTEERS PULL TOGETHER FOR HARVEY VICTIMS
September 6, 2017
By: Madison Simmons
Williamson County Sun
On Friday Morning 800 people were stranded in Beaumont, one of the cities hardest-hit by Hurricane Harvey. Some had not eaten in 24 hours.
Some residents in Georgetown got word and put out a call for help on Facebook.
People made sandwiches in their homes, local businesses boxed up sandwich and pizza lunches, volunteers loaded this and pallets off water bottles onto an airplane and by noon those people in trouble had lunch.
This was one of several small miracles flown out of Georgetown Municipal Airport during Labor Day weekend.
The local aviation community, Celebration Church and other volunteer forces banded together to turn the airport into a hub for sending immediate relief to areas who needed it the most in the wake of a hurricane that ravaged the Texas coastline.
On Friday afternoon, the airport had sent out 45,000 pounds of food, water, hygiene kits and other aid.
"This is short-term relief" Robin Eissler said, taking a break from attending to the stream of text messages on her phone.
"That toilet paper," she said pointing at a nearby stack in the GTU Jet hangar, "will be used tonight. None of it is going into a warehouse."
Ms. Eissler sells airplanes; she's the chief operating officer of jetAVIVA.
She used her connections in the aviation community to coordinate immediate relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Hurricane Harvey is her third major disaster to leap into with her nonprofit, Sky Hope Network. "But the amazing ones are the owners of the airplanes," she said, looking to the runway.
"I just help connect the airplanes to the places."
By mid-day Friday over 30 pilots, many from Texas, some from other parts of the nation, had come to Georgetown to fly out supplies.
Dianna Stanger was one of those pilots. She was about to head out for her first flight of the day. On Thursday, she had made several trips, to deliver goods and to shuttle evacuees to safety.
"It was eye-opening, just to see the devastation." she said.
A Port Lavaca native herself, she was shocked to see the damage in other cities.
"We had a couple we found through Facebook. All the man had was a bag of medical supplies. He was 80 years old and had never been on a plane."
Ms. Stanger is a board member for Angel Flight, a nonprofit collective of pilots that gives free rides to those in immediate need, mostly in need of medical care.
Helping Ms. Stanger local her plane was a group of volunteers from Celebration Church.
Rene Banglesdorf, CEO of Charlie Bravo Aviation and a Celebration Church member had worked with Pastor Joe Champion to get fast donations and helping hands.
She also helped find pilots and coordinate flights.
"The business and the fair community are coming together," Ms. Banglesdorf said.
"We're coming together to really help people."
Other partners included Mesquite Creek owners Cody Hirt and Brad Strittmatter. Par Avion Ltd., Patient Airlift Services and Austin Disaster Relief Network.
Thank you to all of our tenants, colleagues, friends, and Georgetown Chamber of Commerce members, ans District 3 Councilmember John Hesser, who attended our Ribbon Cutting on August 30. It was a great success and we enjoyed showing off our new location.
GTU Jet's Building 3 is the perfect solution for an aeronautical company or flight department looking for an all-in-one solution. This hangar is perfectly located for easy access to runways, making getting in and out a breeze.
The adjacent 1,728 square feet of office space includes four (4) offices, receptionist area, and two (2) bathrooms (including shower). The 12,200 square foot hangar features large sliding doors (79.5' wide x 19.8' high), monitored fire suppression, and a compressed air system.
Ready to schedule a tour? Give Ken Mabe a call at (512) 869-0900.
For more information or to register to attend click here or email Ed McCombs.
2nd ANNUAL 50 FELLAS FOODFEST
Georgetown ISD Foundation's 2nd annual fall fundraiser will feature 50 manly teams showcasing their culinary talent with appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Team creations will be judged by guests and awarded by popular vote.
When: October 28, 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Where: GTU Jet, 160 Terminal Drive
For more information, to purchase tickets, or to register a team visit Georgetown ISD Foundation.
Phillip Gillespie started at GTU Jet in July as a Line Service Technician.
Prior to joining the GTU Jet team, Phillip worked for a security company. His favorite part of working at GTU Jet, is learning new skills to add to his previous aviation knowledge he gained while serving in the Marine Corps.
When not at GTU Jet, Phillip balances his time between his family and being a full-time student at Austin Community College.
PHOTO OF THE MONTH
The "Bluebonnet Belle" from The Commemorative Air Force Highland Lakes Squadron, packed full with supplies for a hurricane Harvey relief flight.