WPAFB flys airmen, supplies to hardest hit areas from Hurricane Harvey

Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Photo/WDTN Staff)

WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (WDTN) – In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, airmen from Wright Patterson Air Force Base are flying to the areas hardest hit by the storm to help with relief efforts.

In the last few days, Wright Patterson Air Force Base has sent thousands of pounds of supplies in large cargo planes to help the flood victims along the Gulf Coast.

Earlier today, I spoke with pilot Bill Barton, who’s been flying for more than 28 years. He says the devastation he witnessed from above is unlike anything he’s ever seen before.

“Honesty, I’m from Michigan,” Barton said. “And it looked like they just moved Lake Michigan on to shore. I’ve never seen so much water in my life.”

Many homes destroyed, some towns nearly underwater. That’s why 4 airmen, including Bill Barton, loaded up this cargo plane at Wright Patterson Air Force base and headed to the areas hardest hit.

“We need to feed them. We need to make them comfortable,” Barton said. “We need to put clothes on them. We need to take them water that they can drink, not the water that is up to the eyes. And we were ready so we had two jets and four crews in constant rolling alert.”

This aircraft, known as the C-17, is specially designed to respond in natural disaster situations like Hurricane Harvey.

“There’s literally nothing,” Barton said. “This airplane and this aircraft and this unit can’t do. We operate from the four corners of the earth all the time, but when it’s a national emergency, you’d be surprised how fast we can stand down half of the flying schedule everybody kind of rolls in the crews get formed inside just a few hours.”

Anytime a natural disaster happens to the magnitude of a storm like Hurricane Harvey, Wright Patterson Air Force Base is one of the first places called to help.

That’s why Barton says they’re always ready and prepared to help at a moment’s notice.

“We are well into the fight,” Barton said. “We represent a large portion of the relief effort and we’re just happy to do it.”

Barton tells me they flown a total of two aircraft to the devastated areas. They spent 3 days there, each airmen working 16-hour days.

No word yet on if they have any plans to head back.


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