There we were, five Grummans in a loose formation heading for an airport, cleared for the right break for landing but there was a wall of water falling from the sky just to the right of the runway. Our inexperienced formation had to make a quick change to right echelon in order to break left away from the heavy rain...
It all started with a post on a social media site. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association members in Miami, Florida, had a load of relief supplies for the controllers in the Bahamas and were looking for pilots to deliver the supplies. AYA member Ross Brilakis saw the posting and contacted AYA Convention Co-Chair Matt Drahzal to see if the AYA could help during the convention. Matt sent an e-mail to the attendees asking for volunteers and five pilots answered the call. Former AYA safety director Ron Levy volunteered to be mission planner.
As it turned out, there was not enough time to do all the paperwork required to do the flight during the convention, so a decision was made to go on the day after the convention ended. Ron contacted the NATCA Chair - man for Disaster Response, Tom Flanary, to get the details. He then prepared a PowerPoint briefing for those of us who signed up.
Who knew a 45 minute flight to the Bahamas would require over four hours of paperwork preparation and submittal? First, there was the request to enter the Freeport Temporary Flight Restricted area. The request, the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority Temporary Flight Authorization Application Hurricane Dorian Relief form required six attachments; 1) Aircraft Certificate of Registration; 2) Certificate of Airworthiness; 3) Aircraft Insurance; 4) Pilot License; 5) Pilot Medical; 6) Pilot Passport. Fortunately, they accepted photographs of the documents, but it took quite a while.