Bell Helicopter Textron (booth 245) today honored the customer organizations and company flight and ground crews who volunteered their services during the Katrina relief effort.

Six Bell aircraft – 407s, 430s and 206 LongRangers – operated by 11 pilots and a compact ground support team flew in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) hurricane relief work. Missions ranged from the distribution of medical supplies to aerial surveillance for FEMA and local-enforcement agencies.


Randy Rowles, senior flight instructor at the Bell Helicopter Training Academy, described the conditions that met the volunteers when they arrived over the flooded city of New Orleans. “There was a 1,000ft ceiling, a mile and a half visibility, no lights and around 70 aircraft in the surrounding airspace,” he said. “The fact that there were no collisions is all due to the professionalism and dedication of the pilots.”

Bell customers involved in the relief campaign included Air Logistics, PHI, golfer Greg Norman, brewing company Anheuser-Busch and charter/management company HeloAir. Asked whether they would step up to the plate again in the event of another disaster, Anheuser-Busch chief pilot Pat Cronk and HeloAir president Whit Baldwin were unanimous: “We’d do it again in a heartbeat if we had to.”

Bell is still giving New Orleans and its citizens a helping hand. Among the handouts at the booth are Mardi Gras-style beaded lanyards and bright-green Hurricane Katrina support bracelets bearing the legend “Relief-Rebuild-Renew”. The money the company paid for the giveaways has gone to the Katrina victim relief fund.

Source: Flight Daily News