May 8, 2019
Formed in 2017 during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Operation Airdrop started as an effort to send truckloads of bottled water, diapers and other supplies into the storm-stricken areas along the Texas gulf coast. Within days it had grown into a coordinated relief effort aided by dozens of volunteer pilots flying general aviation and business aircraft.
“Operation Airdrop is a lean and mean, fast-moving surgical strike operation that bridges the gap from when disaster hits to when organizations like FEMA and others arrive,” said Doug Jackson, co-founder of Operation Airdrop
Jackson, owner of a Decatur, TX-based trailer company, initially expected the truckloads of goods he’d helped arrange would last three days. “We were out of supplies by the next morning,” he said. “We needed a massive influx, and it occurred to me that pilots are always looking for a reason to fly.”
Jackson put the word out through pilot forums, and a friend working in radio in Fort Worth. By the next day, a Piper Aerostar loaded with tire sealant was enroute to Conroe, TX and three more relief flights took off the following day.
The effort grew exponentially, largely coordinated through social media. “By the 10th day, we’d flown between 250,000 and 300,000 pounds of supplies,” Jackson continued.
The organization has since assisted in the immediate aftermath of several storms, with pilots flying critically needed supplies to areas cut off from ground transportation by floodwaters and other storm damage.