Aug. 16, 2023

As residents of Maui, HI, continue to deal with the devastation caused by wildfires – and the need for basic supplies continues to grow – business aviation has been at the forefront of helping those in need.

“We have been focused on providing supplies and relief to mothers, but we have not turned away any other essential supplies needed to be flown to the island. We have been flying into both Kapalua, Maui and Kahului, Maui. There have been so many needs, it’s hard to say what is the greatest, but we know that babies need formula, so for us it has been trying to get as much formula over there as possible,” said Nicole Battjes, CEO and director of operations for Rainbow Helicopters Honolulu.

“To date, we have taken over 200 containers of formula, 75 boxes of diapers and 75 boxes of wipes,” she said. “We have bought as much baby supplies on the island of Oahu as possible to fly over to Maui. I’m so grateful to be making sure our babies and moms get what they need during this time.”

Laurence Balter, owner of the Maui Flight Academy, along with fellow local pilots, has carried tens of thousands of pounds of relief supplies to Kapalua Airport in west Maui.

“It is emergency situations like this that we [general aviation] can help the community, so why not?,” he said.

Maui Humanitarian ReliefWhen the fire hit, “we knew the west end of the island was cut off,” said Balter, a certified flight instructor. Garrett Marrero, a pilot and owner of owner of Maui Brewing, rallied the local aviation community to come together and help, he added.

“We had everything delivered to the fire station, which was extremely efficient on asking what our payloads and capabilities were. We loaded the airplanes, and 12 minutes later we were at West Maui Airport,” Balter said.

The pilots coordinated their flights to and from the single 3,000-foot asphalt runway using its common traffic advisory frequency.

Maui Humanitarian Relief“It was like a mini-Oshkosh. It was so smooth an operation you might have thought that we’d rehearsed it,” Balter said just before taking off from Honolulu with a load of pure water faucets for the hospital. “There was no paperwork, we didn’t need manifests, it was what can you take, load the airplane and go. The only real coordination was making sure we had enough room on the ramp for everyone to unload.”

The Maui Flight Academy website provides information for those looking to make donations toward their efforts.

Battjes said she and her team will continue to bring supplies to Maui for as long as the Island needs help.

“Right now, the best way people can help our efforts is to donate to our gofundme account,” she said, adding 100% of the donations go toward supplies and relief efforts, with Rainbow Helicopters donating all the flights and Castle and Cooke Aviation donating all of the fuel.

Learn more about Rainbow Helicopters.