Pilots

Area pilots flew supplies from the Portland Municipal Airport to Madisonville, Ky. for tornado victims of that area. From the left: Mayor Mike Callis, Justin Tayloe, Richard Myers, Tori Langman, Doug Hunter, Eric Betty, Brenda Kersey, Jeff Kersey, Mike Fisher, Nick Hoffman, and Jeff Hickman. SUBMITTED

What started as one pilot’s desire to take a load of supplies to the tornado victims in Kentucky ended with eight planes flying out of the Portland Municipal Airport with over $15,000 worth of supplies and gift cards for those victims.

Nick Hoffman, who keeps his plane in a T-Hanger at the airport, saw a post from the manager of the Madisonville Regional Airport about people bringing in loads of supplies in their single-engine planes, and thought that he could also do that.

He and his wife decided that they could donate a single load of supplies and some gift cards to the victims. His friends heard about his plan and they began to want to donate a few things.

Hoffman put a single message on Facebook and Instagram letting his friends know that if they wanted to drop off a few things at the local airport that he would bring them along.

He was overwhelmed at the response from people who didn’t live in the Portland area. According to Hoffman, he got thirty to forty messages from people from all over the country within a few hours, who wanted to donate money.

This response motivated Hoffman to set up a “GoFundMe” account with a goal of $2,500. The goal was reached within a couple of hours and by the end of the day $7,000 had been contributed. By the time the eight planes took the supplies, the fund was up to $14,000. Ultimately, over $15,000 was reached in three days.

After two days of shopping, there were loads of cleaning supplies, rags, tarps, bungee cords, baby formula, diapers, snack bars, and food taken to the airport for storage. Thousands of dollars in gift cards in amounts of $25, $50, and $100 were purchased to distribute to the victims.

“I was blown away and overwhelmed by the response. It was an emotional thing for me, and I think it really illustrates just how many people are out there like me who want to do something, but don’t feel like they can do anything that will actually make an impact with a catastrophe of this size,” Hoffman said. “The outpouring of support really shows that there are still good people out there. If it wasn’t for the Internet and the local aviation community this never would have happened.”

According to Hoffman, pilots love to have a mission with a purpose and the aviation community based at the Portland Municipal Airport does many things for the people throughout Tennessee and Kentucky that most people never hear about. He added that they do airlifts like this one, fly toys at Christmas to people who need them, fly rescue animals all over the country, and transport cancer patients and people with critical illnesses. They also support military training from Fort Campbell.

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