In late August, the Rotorcraft Pro team was diligently working on the feature articles for this issue you are reading. Though every story involved helicopters, none had anything to do with hurricanes. Then storm history occurred on what seemed like a Biblical scale. I watched in shock from the safety of my Florida office the heart-breaking images coming out of the Houston, Texas, region in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Upon dumping a record 51 inches of rain on the area, massive flooding left tens of thousands of citizens trapped and in need of rescue.
The people inside the many boats and helicopters that came to aid those tens of thousands were the true saving grace. In virtually every photo and video, we saw our industry brothers and sisters, both military and civilian, rise to the occasion. It was an extremely proud moment to see many of the operators and people I know personally, out doing what very few can do—save lives.
The scale of the event, and efforts being brought to bare were so inspirational, that we made the decision to completely change our editorial lineup and include a feature on how our industry rose to meet the challenge of rescue and recovery. We hope you too are inspired by the feature which begins on page 62.
But wait. Then it got personal . . . Hurricane Irma came at my family and me!
Irma quickly grew to become the largest and most powerful hurricane recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. It became a Category 5, packing 185 mph winds. Its forecast track was straight up the spine of Florida, putting Rotorcraft Pro and several of its families in the storm’s path. As for us, we came out OK.
My family went without power, running water, or internet for many days and we experienced local flooding that exceeded a record set in in 1964. We grilled food outside, bathed in the pool, and slept in the fresh air. It was sort of like camping. For us, it was just an inconvenience, but many were not so lucky.
As I write this letter, Hurricane Maria just ravaged the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. All of the island is without power, and resources like food and water are diminishing. Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones to these hurricanes. Our great thanks goes out to those in our industry who responded.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico have lost everything. Just as our industry launched its helicopters and crews to rescue those left in the wake of these massive past storms, our industry will also be there in the future to help rebuild the lives that have been displaced.
Please remember that there will still be a need long after these hurricanes disappear from the news. Rotorcraft Pro challenges you to bless a neighbor, or a charitable organization, with some of your time, goods or funds in support of relief and recovery efforts. If there’s no local organization in your area that you wish to support, perhaps consider one of the larger organizations like the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross. Every little part we can play is an important role!