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Saving Lives in Haiti; First Hand Account from Utah Pilot
February 3, 2010
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  • Bob Lambert, chief pilot for Williams International gave his first hand account on his recent trip to Haiti. Bob, alongside co-pilots John Whitman and Adam Stith, traveled to the earthquake-ravished island twice to help with relief. Williams International, a privately-owned, gas turbine engine manufacturer sponsored the use of two company planes (a Cessna Citation 10 and a CJ2) for Bob’s efforts.

    In the first day alone, Bob delivered over 900 lbs. of critical supplies including medicine, baby formula, rice, and hospital equipment. He also assisted with shuttling a new wave of doctors to replace fatigued medics who have been on the ground since the quake first hit.

    In the days ahead Bob bypassed large airports choked with traffic and provided immediate aid for the seriously injured, the elderly, and young children to be reunited with their families.

    “From what I see, the General Aviation faction will prove to be a significant element in saving lives.”

    According to Bob, the fleet of GA aircraft has a clear advantage when trying to deliver people and supplies in a nation with virtually no infrastructure.

    “Smaller GA aircraft [such as Caravans] were inserting assets at small secondary airports and roads, right where the doctors needed to beÉ”

    With support from Williams International, Bob was able to complete two separate missions to Haiti. See below to read more excerpts from Bob’s journal, and photos from Haiti.


    Bob Lambert Journal Entry from January 18, 2010:

    Santiago, D. R.

    Our first trip occurred today in support of the Haiti tragedy. We worked into Santiago, Dominican Republic where our contact from CARE is shuttling with a Caravan and several PC12’s to two small airports and a road serving the remote hospitals. We delivered 900 lbs of critical medicines, baby formula, rice, and equipment in addition to our pax which were two doctors, an engineer and an aide. Port Au Prince requires arrival slots with several days advance notice and does not serve the needs of the medical teams because of this cumbersome restriction. As motivated people often do, a better solution evolved using small general aviation airplanes to move people and materials effectively to the scene of the need. Man, you can get a lot done with the right people and tools. Tomorrow we have a slot into Port Au Prince rotating eight medical people in and eight out. The first wave of doctors are getting fatigued and ready for replacements.

    Bob Lambert Journal Entry from January 20, 2010:

    Pontiac, MI.

    We are home. Our trip last night went well. We got our first look at Port Au Prince last evening as we flew down a 15 mile final approach viewing everything you see on CNN and more. They don’t show the large bonfires on TV. It’s 90 degrees! We brought medical supplies like before as well as four US support people, a doctor, and a mother. The American mother left her 11-month old boy to visit with relatives in Port Au Prince two days before the quake. It was four days before she could determine if he was alive. We were able to take her in, reunite the family, and bring them out Ð that was a tear jerker. We brought out another mother with three small boys as well as two American humanitarians who were providing free medicines. Our last passenger was an older woman who was seriously injured and in need of medical help in Santiago which is a 7 hour drive or a 25 minute flight for us. She had been waiting for several hours for our arrival on the wrong ramp but luckily showed up in the back of a pickup about 4 minutes before our curfew. Believe it or not her escort had run from one corner of the airport to the other in the dark, about 1.2 miles, across the runway and happened upon us because we had put the tail flood lights on, which lit up N399W. That N number was the only thread he had to go on for finding us. It was like that the whole time, where small pieces had to somehow come together to complete the puzzle.

    From what I see, the General Aviation faction will prove to be a significant element in saving lives. Not only the first week but looking forward the next couple of weeks as the military effectiveness comes into play. The overwhelming attribute as a General Aviation operator is our capability to react. Within 48 hours of NBAA’s call-to-arms email, we were moving critical supplies and doctors to staging areas with our fast CX. Smaller GA aircraft in our armada such as Caravans were inserting assets at small secondary airports and roads, right where the doctors needed to be, bypassing the large airport which is choked with traffic and restricting the supply chain. This is a very important element to the time line of saving injured people. I believe the situation is improving but that they are still in the stages where GA aircraft are important. There are many tactical locations needing supplies, and the doctors on site need to be relieved.

    Bob Lambert

    Chief Pilot

    Williams International

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