Volunteers at the Museum of Flight on the grounds at Admiral John H. Towers Field in Rome are asking for help from the community to support relief efforts in the Bahamas.
Joel Megginson, one of the pilots who volunteers at the museum and will be a part of the mission to the Bahamas, said the museum has an old Korean War-era cargo aircraft that is just the right size to ferry loads of relief goods from Fort Lauderdale to Marsh Harbour Airport on Abaco Island.
Pete O’Hare, another pilot who will be a part of the relief mission, said he expects at least 12 people to be part of the effort to help out with crews.
“Most of the guys that are going are former military guys, so they’ve seen this thing before. This isn’t for the faint of heart,” O’Hare said.
The aircraft is a C-45H. “We’re going to be using it exactly as it was used in Korea,” O’Hare said. The same aircraft was used in the relief effort in Houston following Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
The Bahamas have been devastated by Hurricane Dorian, and the extent of damages and loss of life, according to Megginson, may not be known for days, even weeks to come.
The relief effort is being coordinated by an organization called Aero Bridge.
The Museum of Flight volunteers are seeking to raise as much money as they can through a Go Fund Me page to pay for fuel and oil to run the humanitarian flights.
A goal of $50,000 has been set and the group hopes to raise the funds as quickly as possible.
“We wish that we were down there today, as soon as we can get down there. There is as much work for us as we can do in the foreseeable future,” said Megginson.
Megginson said Saturday afternoon that he had spent the day learning more than he ever imagined about the devastation on the Bahamas. He said the aircraft owned by the museum has a 2,000-pound capacity, which is just right to be able to get into the small airport.
The aircraft has a large cargo door on the side that is large enough to easily load a couple of pallets of relief supplies at a time.
At this point, Megginson said he anticipates ferrying everything from relief supplies to people on the island who need medical assistance that is not available on the island.
“We’re in a bit of a time crunch,” Megginson said. It costs approximately $1,200 an hour to fly the plane, and Megginson said the flight from Fort Lauderdale to Marsh Harbour is right at an hour, so each lap would cost $2,400.
People can get additional information about the project at www.gofundme.com/f/vc9jet-warbirds-airlift-of-relief-supplies-to-bahamas.