286 Flying Relief to Maui’s Wildfire Victims – interview Laurence Balter

Max talks with Laurence Balter about how the general aviation community in Hawaii is flying relief supplies to help victims of Maui’s wildfires. The town of Lahaina is served by just a single road, which has closed frequently since the wildfires began a week ago. Electricity and cell phone outages have also hampered relief efforts.

Soon after the fires, local Maui pilots began organizing to fly supplies into Kapalua Airport, near Lahaina, but which is closed to most general aviation flights. The pilots received permission to fly into Kapalua, and began flying relief supplies to the airport.

Balter and Maui Brewing founder Garrett Marrero organized the effort via text messages and social media, and flights began on August 11. The pilot group worked with the airport fire departments at Maui’s main Kahului Airport. Firefighters and volunteers weighed and loaded supplies that were delivered to the fire station. The process worked in reverse at the Kapalua airport, where local fire fighters unloaded planes and helicopters and arranged for the distribution of supplies to local victims in Lahaina.

Laurence is flying his relief flights using the Cirrus SR22 that he usually uses for dual-led flying experiences, for pilots vacationing on Maui who are interested in flying a Cirrus and getting exposed to flying in Hawaii. He’s also set up a Go Fund me page for people interested in donating to pay for avgas that volunteer pilots have had to pay for to fly the wildfire relief missions.

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