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December 10, 2016
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Local pilots, medics fly relief missions to Haiti; The gift of helping people one flight at a time

Mike Lovelace, vice president of Archangel Airborne, left, and volunteer Andy Aslanian of Ft. Lee, NJ, (also under the wing) are joined by two unidentified volunteers as they ready a plane to deliver donated supplies to communities hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy.
Contributed photo

Five separate planes—some owned by TML Aircraft, a company owned by Lovelace, plus private planes owned by people who wanted to help—carried tons of supplies to the Lakewood Airport in New Jersey. “Luckily, the airport was not under water like the rest of the town,” he recalled. At Lakewood, volunteers with an SUV, two cars and a truck distributed the supplies to those who needed it.

Archangel also coordinated delivery of some supplies by truck to areas where there were no landing fields in Staten Island and in a critical area of Long Island. One of those trucks, provided by Rick Linde, the owner of Leeward Construction, Inc., delivered supplies gathered in the Honesdale area.

One essential item they were able to fly in was a 400-horsepower generator.

“Matt Rudder, one of our members, asked for a heavy-duty commercial generator, which he used to supply all of his neighbors with water, which they lacked. A ground vehicle transported fuel for the generator separately.” A few weeks later, when the floodwater receded, local stores reopened, and Archangel’s flights were no longer necessary, allowing the group to refocus their concentration on their original mission in Haiti.

There, they have two goals—to set up medical clinics and to train first responders.

“The clinics are set up for basic first-aid, hemorrhage treatment, fracture stabilization and spinal stabilization,” Lovelace said. “Students in the first-responder classes learn to respond [to emergencies] using only the resources they currently have in their villages, thereby making the training sustainable on a longer–term basis in areas where there is no established medical care present.”

Hirsch and Lovelace have plans to expand their operation to assist any community that is in distress for any reason and that needs their kind of air capability.

“We’ve discovered how effective our operation can be and how it can serve other areas,” Lovelace said. “We plan to get a bigger plane that can carry double what we carry to Haiti. Since this airport [at Cherry Ridge] has a sufficiently long runway, why not get a bigger plane?”

The group raises money by performing at musical venues, and hopes to perform at The Cooperage in Honesdale in the near future.