Civil Air Patrol and Local Pilot Help with Vaccine Distribution
The doses were targeted for delivery to Native American tribes.
FEMA first turned to Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City for the first round of vaccine delivery. Then it called on volunteer pilots to help deliver a second round.
Lt. Colonel Robert Bowden from Harbor Springs and Livonia was one of two pilots to make the flights to Michigan and Wisconsin. He was joined by Maj. Rod Rakic. They finished last week with trips to Sault Ste. Marie, Traverse City, and Ann Arbor.
The Civil Air Patrol says fixed-wing aircraft give planners more flexibility and allow for shorter travel time, compared to both commercial flights or driving the vaccine to its destinations. That’s especially true when the final destinations are not near commercial airports. “While there are about 300 airports in the U.S. with scheduled airline service, light fixed-wing aircraft, such as the aircraft Civil Air Patrol uses, offer responders access to more than 5,000 public-use airports.”
There are no immediate plans for additional deliveries. U.S. Public Health Service Officers Capt. Melissa Wentz Opsahl and Lt. John Naegeli also joined in delivering the cargo.