Tsunami Relief Pilot: What It's Like ...

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Tsunami Recovery Depends on Airlift

"It's a fever-pitch, adrenaline-rush kind of effort," for pilots working in the tsunami relief zone, Dennis Fulton, vice-president of operations for the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), told AVweb yesterday. The MAF and its sister organization, MAF-Europe, have three aircraft working in Indonesia -- a Caravan, a Cessna 206, and a turbine Beaver amphibian. These small aircraft are vital to breaking the "aid bottleneck" and getting supplies out to the people. "There's a terrible, terrible need. But it's not just an anything-goes operation. We are strict about staying within our safety standards and operating procedures," Fulton said. Each aircraft is assigned two pilots and a maintenance crew chief, and the pilots are rotated out of the disaster zone every two weeks. Fulton said care is taken to ensure that the staffers don't get exhausted and start to make bad decisions. "In the Aceh province, out of 5,600 towns and villages, 1,500 were wiped out. So you see the scope of the problem."