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Private Pilots Plan Airlift To Bahamas

"On The Upwind Flying Club" Facebook page
On The Upwind Flying Club / Facebook
"On The Upwind Flying Club" Facebook page

Now that Tampa Bay residents are able to let their guard down against Hurricane Dorian, many people are taking a look at what can be done to help the hard-hit Bahamas.

One group of local pilots is quickly mobilizing to gather supplies and plans to fly them to the island.

Juan Concheiro is president of the On the Upwind Flying Club. Concheiro says there's no way to know yet when they'll be able to land there.

"We just got a video from Freeport and the whole airport is underwater," Concheiro said. "The main thing is you don't know if the runway is damaged, you don't know if part of the runway is missing once the water clears."

Concheiro said it's also imperative that people are in place in the Bahamas to accept and distribute the donations.

SEE MORE: Satellite Imagery Shows Extent Of Devastating Flooding On Grand Bahama Island

The flying club is partnering with a Tampa aviation company to help with logistics and planning.

Concheiro said that more than a dozen pilots have already volunteered to fly to the Bahamas, and calls are still coming in.

The group has done this before -- they flew to Key West after Hurricane Irma to deliver supplies. Concheiro said they learned from that experience.

"The most important thing is the actual list of what's needed. When we did this for [Hurricane] Irma, the community came out in force to help," Concheiro said. "But, as we were sorting through the donations for Key West, we were pulling out stuff like fur coats."

Now, said Concheiro, they are being much more specific about what they want to bring to the Bahamas. A list of needed donations -- including financial contributions -- as well as drop-off locations, are on their website, CaringForTheBahamas.com.

Robin Sussingham was Senior Editor at WUSF until September 2020.
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