Hawaii wildfire relief efforts
General aviation companies have been among those providing relief for victims of deadly wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Bizav Mobilizes Relief Efforts For Maui

The fires there have proven to be among the deadliest in modern U.S. history.

General aviation companies have been among those providing relief for victims of deadly wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Relief supplies have been arriving at Maui’s Kaluhui Airport (POGG), which was undamaged by the conflagration. On August 12, the Hawaii Department of Transportation announced it would shut down the airport's secondary 4,980-foot Runway 5/23 as it prioritizes commercial and cargo flights into the island.

The fires have proven to be among the deadliest in modern U.S. history with the toll reaching nearly 100 victims as of Sunday. According to state officials, more than 2,000 structures in and around the historic town of Lahaina were burned, leaving thousands homeless and without food, water, or power. While Lahaina was destroyed, locals noted that the most severe damage was largely limited to the western shore of the island, leaving the remaining infrastructure intact.

FBO groups Atlantic Aviation and Signature Aviation, which both have extensive footprints throughout the Hawaiian Islands, have assisted in the relief efforts, helping customers coordinate evacuation flights and transporting people from the Lahaina area to the safety of the airport. Atlantic noted that its staff at other bases in Hawaii have purchased supplies such as bottled water, food (for people and pets), toiletries, and other necessities that have been loaded on aircraft and ships departing for Maui. As there is currently no timetable for the restoration of power, portable generators are an acute need.

“Our local team has done a tremendous job ensuring our team members are safe and cared for, accommodating our customers, and aiding the rescue and firefighting efforts,” said Brian Corbett, the chain’s chief commercial and sustainability officer. “We have been supporting air rescue efforts at our POGG base and are assessing what we can do as a company to assist the people of Maui in their recovery from this disaster.”

Signature added that early on in the disaster, it provided shelter at its Kaluhui FBO for people who escaped the fire and is continuing to send ice and water out to the affected areas for the local community.

Relief came from as far away as the mainland as Planet 9—a charter operator based at the Los Angeles–area Van Nuys Airport FBO Castle and Cooke Aviation—dispatched one of its large-cabin Bombardier Global Express jets packed with supplies to the area. The FBO provided relief supplies and in partnership with Avfuel, donated nearly 3,000 gallons of sustainable aviation fuel for the flight.

Castle and Cooke’s Honolulu facility has been supporting local helicopter tour operators Maverick and Rainbow Helicopters with donated fuel for their relief flights as they carry supplies such as bottled water into Maui and return with displaced victims. “I am proud of our Honolulu FBO team in providing tireless handling and fueling support for operations providing relief,” said Tony Marlow, president of the group's aviation operations and business development.

Soon after the fires were brought under control, Laurence Balter, the owner of Kahului-based Maui Flight Academy, received permission to fly into Kapalua Airport (PHJH), normally just a 10-minute drive from Lahaina. Using his school’s Cirrus SR-22, he has flown multiple missions a day in coordination with a pair of privately operated Piper Saratogas.

On Saturday alone, they delivered more than 25,000 pounds of supplies, which are being distributed by the local fire department. Balter told BJT that state officials were stunned at the effectiveness and capability that general aviation has brought to the relief supply chain. Along with cases of Gatorade and meals for the firefighting crews, they delivered 100 pounds of urgently needed insulin. “There are people alive today because of general aviation,” Balter stated. He has set up a page for donations to help with fuel costs.