Haiti Relief Group Helps Pilots Raise Fuel Funds

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Bahamas Habitat, a relief group that has been organizing volunteer pilots and smaller general aviation aircraft to serve outlying airports in Haiti, said this week it has developed a Web-based fundraising system called "Pilots Pay It Forward" to help cover fuel costs. "Our new system is going to make it possible for even more pilots to participate in our Haiti relief missions and allow pilots to easily come back to help again," said John Armstrong, president of Bahamas Habitat. "Our most common request [from volunteer pilots] has been to help with fuel costs, and the system provides a great way to meet this need." Pilots, crew and other volunteers can create a personal page on the fundraising site, then lobby their network of friends and associates to support their flight missions. Donations are tracked for each pilot and they can submit their fuel receipts for reimbursement against the funds they have raised.

"We have flown over 200 missions into Haiti so far and many of our pilots have come back multiple times," said Armstrong. "This system makes it possible for pilots to keep coming back and providing their aircraft far beyond their individual ability to pay for their fuel expenses themselves." Tens of thousands of pounds of critical supplies still need to be moved from various depots around the U.S. into Haiti, the group said. Bahamas Habitat relief missions have involved all types of GA aircraft, including King Airs, Pilatus PC-12s, Bonanzas, Aztecs, and Cessna 180s. Pilots interested in flying missions, whether within the U.S. or all the way to Haiti, can sign up to volunteer on the group's Web site. Bahamas Habitat is a U.S.-based Christian nonprofit group.