Thursday I had the honor of traveling with Samaritan's Purse on a relief mission to Puerto Rico. Since the hurricanes have decimated much of the Caribbean, Samaritan's Purse has been flying regular relief missions in its DC-8 from Greensboro, North Carolina to the Caribbean.
As a Board member and the Treasurer of the Piedmont Triad International Airport and as a commercial pilot, I was invited to accompany the organization on its mission October 5. I arrived at the airport at that wonderful time just before dawn when the sun is beginning to creep over the horizon.
First of all, I was amazed by the size and freight-hauling capabilities of the DC-8. The DC-8, manufactured by McDonnell Douglas, first went into production in the 1950s and was produced through the early 1970s. It became known as a workhouse freight and long-distance carrier. To this day it is one of the most efficient airplanes available, particularly for long-distance hauling. As configured by Samaritan's Purse, its DC-8 can fly at nearly 500 miles an hour for up to 15 hours hauling freight and 32 passengers.
Samaritan's Purse's capabilities to quickly swing into action to aid those in need is incredible. Not only does the organization have the equipment and facilities to deliver much-needed aid, but it also has a team of amazing individuals who dispense the supplies with professionalism and caring. They organization, known for its strong religious connection, has a passion to help those in need, which is truly amazing. It takes a large, dedicated team to deliver disaster relief. In this case, the team consists of dozens of highly professional individuals serving in roles from pilots to line persons, flight attendants, logistic and administrative support and legal staff.
As we landed in Puerto Rico, a little over three hours after leaving PTI with much-needed supplies, I was struck by the thought that while the news is often filled with horrifying reports of disheartening events, how refreshing it was to see people who get up every day with the aim of helping others. I understand that in North Carolina, Samaritan's Purse has more than 700 employees supporting its worldwide relief efforts. The dozen or so people I met assisting with this relief effort are truly amazing people who I want to thank! The world needs more people from all faiths willing to help those less fortunate and in need.