Carson City couple donate time, plane, to Haitian relief effort
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A Carson City couple have volunteered their Albatross seaplane to pilot a group of 12 doctors and nurses to Haiti to aid in the earthquake relief effort.
Bill and Gina DaSilva are providing airlift for medical teams from Opa Locka, Fla., to the Haitian coast, bypassing the congested airports and landing in the water with their 1951 Grumman Albatross amphibious seaplane.
The seaplane’s flights to Haiti are transporting the medical team and 4,000 pounds of supplies, while the return flights are bringing up to 15 Haitian orphans per trip to the United States to meet their adoptive parents.
Chuck Kimes, owner of Zephyr Cove-based SeaPlane Operations, is donating personnel and logistical support to the mission and soliciting donations for fuel and other expenses.
The fuel for each round trip from Florida to Haiti costs $6,000, Kimes said.
On Thursday, Bill DaSilva, a captain with Delta Airlines, was departing Haiti to complete his second trip to the earthquake-torn country. The team hopes to make at least four trips to the country.
“It’s pretty much all-consuming,” Kimes said. “We all have day jobs – I’m a captain for American Airlines. I just got back from London last night; on my layover I was soliciting donations.
“It’s all-consuming, but very rewarding,” Kimes said.
Kimes said the advantage of the sea plane is its ability to transport the group nonstop from Miami to the coast of Haiti. Upon arrival, the group reaches land via shore boats.
“We’re able to skip that whole airport business,” Kimes said, adding that the Port-au-Prince Airport is backlogged by 800 flights.
The medical team from Marquette, Mich., has partnered with Haitian health provider Partners In Health to staff a hospital in Les Cayes.
The orphans had already been matched with adoptive parents before the magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12. The orphans’ cause is close to the heart of Kimes’ business partner, Ray Wolfe, who has an adoptive son from Guatemala.
The group is blogging about its efforts and current location at http://www.haiti.sea
planeops.com. Donations are also accepted through the Web site.