There’s a new emergency airlift that will be flying across the country in the days ahead, assisting the Belize Emergency Response Team with aerial capacity. Wings of Hope has provided BERT with a single engine aircraft valued at approximately one hundred and seventy-five thousand U.S. dollars. The six passenger Piper Cherokee Six has been fitted to carry a patient, as well as a medic and a family member. Veteran pilot James Mallette has been flying with Wings of Hope since 2010 and has been to Belize on at least four assignments. The new airplane replaces one that’s presently in hangar at the municipal airstrip.
James Mallette, Pilot, Wings of Hope
“The one that’s in operation now is the one behind me. It is a loner aircraft from Wings of Hope; they sent it down to replace the one that hit the dog down in Punta Gorda. That was the airplane I was flying when that happened. And the plane that is coming is the replacement aircraft for that plane.”
“Talk to us about the specs pertaining to that aircraft.”
“It is a Piper Cherokee Six. It’s a six passenger airplane, fixed wing. It’s got fixed landing gear, not retractable. It will carry one patient, one family member, one medic and then the pilot and it cruises at about a hundred and twenty miles an hour, so it can reach any of the airports in Belize within forty-five minutes.”
“How long have you been rendering this kind of humanitarian service, if I may, in terms of being able to fly an aircraft in times of emergency?”
“Okay, I started doing this in 2010, it was my first assignment doing this type of work. I have been flying since I was eighteen, so I’ve been flying for well over fifty years and I’ve done other humanitarian flying in the States, but Belize was the first time I went out of the country to do this. That was from 2010 to 2012. I’ve been back four times since then to do a relief. It’s a service that is very needed here in Belize, I mean there are the key airports that you have to have an airplane to get to them or a helicopter. Airplanes are a lot cheaper than helicopters to operate so I think it’s a wise choice and it’s a good airplane for the job.”
It is expected that the new airplane will be cleared for take-off by Tuesday.