ARLINGTON, Wash. — A group of volunteer pilots is on a special mission — to fly nearly 36,000 pounds of personal protective equipment (PPE) and food from Arlington Airport to Native American tribes this week.
The Disaster Airlift Response Teams, also known as DART, is spearheading the four-day effort.
“It’s an extraordinary group coming together. Like the National Tribal Emergency Council who supplied the PPE…that was donated by AT&T," said DART co-Crew Chief Charlie Hicks. "It’s a really special opportunity to help.”
The organization Farmer Frog also donated food as well. Hicks was the point person for the ground support team as pilots came and went.
Smaller private planes were loaded up with the boxes they could fit and took off for locations like Darrington and Bellingham where the PPE supplies will be transferred to local tribal groups for distribution. Other planes will head to Eastern Washington and numerous other airports around the state.
DART has been training since 2009 for a major earthquake that is expected for the Cascadia region. Roads and communication lines likely would be the first casualty in an earthquake, so air transport has been their focus.
“In the aftermath of a big quake general aviation is going to be one of the key critical resources to keep mobility and keep people alive," said DART's Sky Terry. "This is what we are demonstrating right now.”
It’s a volunteer army and DART says they’re always looking for more support. If you would like to volunteer for ground support for future efforts you can go to their website.