In the wake of the devastating tornadoes that tore through Kentucky last month, one Endeavor pilot took to the skies to help those most in need.
Charles Tari, an Endeavor pilot in training, arrived at the Lexington, Ky., airport after the tornados hit and started brainstorming how he could help the local communities. He realized that the tornado victims would not be getting resources immediately, but rather in two to three days due to the nature of the situation.
“It was hard to even know what the situation on the ground was like,” Charles said. “I called up one of my former middle school teachers who lived in the area and asked him if he knew anyone that could help us coordinate donations.”
His first stop for resources was at Walmart on a Sunday morning. Charles’s former teacher shared his Venmo information on social media for anyone who was willing to contribute, and by mid-Sunday, they had over $1,000 worth of donations that filled up a plane.
Charles and his friend decided to fly into Madisonville, Ky., a smaller town that was getting less attention and care compared to the bigger cities. They flew the 70 miles to Madisonville and were devastated by the destruction below them.
“The hardest part was when you were flying, you could clearly see the path of the tornado,” Charles said. “It looked like someone drew a line on the ground – the pictures don’t do it justice.”
They landed around 3:00 pm on Sunday afternoon and met up with their point of contact. By 4:00 pm, all the supplies were handed out to those in need.
“One man was one of the most gracious people I had ever met,” Charles said. “He had lost his house and lost everything, but still had a smile on his face. He made sure that all of these donations were going to those who truly needed it, as there were still people living in their houses with no roofs.”
“That’s when I realized we can really make an impact here,” Charles continued. “Basically, at that point, no supplies had gotten to them. I reached out to my pilot friends and posted in some Facebook groups to get more awareness out there.”
For those affected by the devastating tornados, Charles not only handed out donations, but much-needed hope. By Monday, people from across the country has volunteered their time and airplanes to help those in need. The volunteer groups flew nearly 30 flights during this mission, bringing donated supplies like baby formula, non-perishable food items, hygiene products, clothes and gift cards.
The mission continued throughout the week until Thursday, when supplies started to arrive by truck. Charles believes that aviation was a perfect solution for getting help to those who needed it most as quickly as possible.
“Aviation became a huge value during this devastating time,” Charles said. “It was really special to see people get together and get the immediate need out there. It was the least we could do for my community.”