HMB PILOTS NEWSLETTER. With so many challenges and disasters occurring this year, our airport’s position to support the community in a disaster is as tangible as ever. The participation of the Half Moon Bay Airport Pilot Association’s DART team for San Mateo County (Disaster Airlift Response Team) in California’s Great Shake Out on both Oct 11 and Oct 17 provided a good opportunity for our pilots and ground volunteers to practice working with other community groups and county emergency responders on the communications and logistics for key tasks in assisting during a disaster. This year, we launched two exercises, and had a first operating experience together with our DART members at the San Carlos Airport.
One exercise on October 11 was exclusively with our local Coastside community, led by CalFire Chief Cosgrave and the Coastside CERT and Half Moon Bay Amateur Radio Club where communications among neighborhoods, the CalFire DOC and the airport was practiced. We focused on executing a simulated damage assessment flight with multiple reporting points along the cliffs and roads that can isolate the Coastside in an emergency. In planning that flight from Devils Slide down to Pescadero, then spanning HW84 and 92 through Crystal Springs, we realized that it might be prudent to launch more than one aircraft to accelerate the time to get reports back in a timely fashion. We also evaluated different options to get the information back mid-flight and relay that with HAM support back to the CalFire DOC.
Our second exercise on October 17th took some of the ideas and questions from our community exercise and put them into practice in the annual CalDART Exercise which included a real Disaster.
Assessment Flight organized by Marinus Lamprecht and flown by Steve Renwick. Their route retraced the key areas discussed with the county volunteers from the exercise on the 11th and included extra time spent scouring areas where forest canopy cover would make spotting landslides difficult.
We also launched supply flights, transporting Personal Protective Equipment, donated by nonprofit Global Support, from the San Martin Airport to our newly formed San Carlos DART group, and part of the load was then shipped on to the Half Moon Bay Airport. The San Carlos team’s initial exercise was led by Sue Hirabayashi with support from experienced HMBAPA DART Volunteer Coordinator, Lisa Eckman, and flights were flown by San Carlos pilots Richard Wright, Nello Franco, and KHAF pilot Nick Shmel.
The donated suppliesof 500 Face Shields were distributed to seven non-profits in San Mateo County. The face shields will help frontline workers working in fields ranging from the medical support in disasters, to groups working with the homeless, community members with disabilities, victims of human trafficking, and legal professionals offering pro-bono support for immigrants.
This year’s exercise was a great experience to build our capability to support the county in a disaster, build better relationships with the groups that we will be interacting with in a disaster, and with the donations from Global Support, directly benefit some of the great organizations out there helping the community today.
~ Marian Harris, Half Moon Bay Airport Pilots Association