Local pilots support Hurricane Dorian relief efforts
A group of Naples-based pilots are volunteering their time and aircraft to support Hurricane Dorian relief efforts in the Bahamas.
City of Naples Vice Mayor Gary Price and Terry Spurlock, senior flying ambassador to the Bahamas, are spearheading efforts amongst local pilots who have volunteered to transport locally donated supplies. Together, they are coordinating with Brian Roland, owner of Crave Culinaire/Venue Naples, who has volunteered Venue Naples as a drop-off location for donations.
“We’re fortunate to have the ability and connections to load up our planes and assist with transporting supplies to the Bahamas,” said Price. “We dodged a bullet with this storm, and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and help others who weren’t so fortunate – as much as we can, as fast as we can.”
Price called upon his aviation contacts to establish a direct channel to deliver supplies to the Bahamas’ hardest hit areas via Nassau. Volunteer flight missions started Monday, Sept. 9.
“We’ll have control over the donations from Naples to Nassau, ensuring they go to those who need it most,” said Price.
“This storm has really brought the pilot community together,” said Spurlock. “What we take for granted, they don’t have right now. It’s tough.”
With Spurlock’s role as a senior flying ambassador to the Bahamas, he has connections that have allowed him to identify direct need during this critical time. Although there is restricted airspace over the hardest hit areas of the Bahamas, Spurlock has flown to Nassau with supplies and witnessed firsthand how the larger aviation community has come together to support relief efforts. On Friday, Sept. 6, he delivered tents, lanterns, air mattresses, diapers and other items that are in critical need right now, with additional flights planned in the coming days.
“It’s not cheap to fly goods into the Bahamas,” said Spurlock. “It takes time and expense for the plane itself, on top of the cost of fuel. On average, for every pound of supplies on the plane, it’s costing these pilots $2-3. But still, every pilot I know has rallied around this effort.”
Any pilots interested in volunteering flying services for hurricane relief efforts can contact the Naples Airport Authority at 239-643-0733. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering to help pack supplies can contact Venue Naples at 239-292-1529.
Naples Airport is ideally located within minutes of downtown Naples, the Gulf of Mexico and I-75, connecting people to the Paradise Coast through an exceptional airport experience. The airport services more than 112,000 annual operations, while being an engaged, responsive partner to the community. Home to flight schools, air charter operators, car rental agencies, and corporate aviation and non-aviation businesses, the airport is also a central location for public services, including fire/rescue services, mosquito control, the Collier County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit and other community services.
All funds used for the airport’s operation, maintenance and improvements are generated from activities at the airport or federal and state grants from aviation-related user fees. The airport receives no local tax dollars. The Florida Department of Transportation values the airport’s annual economic impact to the community at more than $440 million.
For more information or to subscribe to email updates from the airport, visit www.FlyNaples.com.