... Meeting Desperate Needs
Once the airplanes reached Meulaboh, a helicopter there scouted out the area and found portions of roadway where the airplanes could land. "There's a road along the coast, but probably 90 percent of the bridges are out. So, since the roads aren't usable, that means we can use the road for runways," Fulton said. There are no lights, so they can fly only in daylight. The pilots set to work, flying supplies and medical workers up and down the coast and evacuating the injured. "We found people who'd had nothing to eat or drink for five days," Fulton said. The Beaver is just now getting established at Meulaboh. They have to be careful about where they can use it because the coastal waters are full of debris. The MAF is starting to send out more pilots from the U.S. to supplement those already based in Indonesia, Fulton said. They will also be sending someone to train loadmasters, to oversee the local workers who help load the airplanes. But they don't need more pilot volunteers, he said. "What we need is help with the financing to keep the airplanes running," he said. With the road system destroyed, the airlift is going to be the only lifeline for many communities. "This is going to have to continue for quite a while," Fulton said.