As Hurricane Irma Loomed, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Safely Relocated 62 Aircraft from Florida to Alabama

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In the rainy early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 – about six hours before Hurricane Irma churned into the lower Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm – 62 flight instructors at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University piloted a fleet of small airplanes to two locations in Alabama.

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A new video vividly conveys the urgency and complexity of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s aircraft fleet relocation right before Hurricane Irma made its U.S. landfall.

In the rainy early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017 – about six hours before Hurricane Irma churned into the lower Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm – 62 flight instructors at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University piloted a fleet of small airplanes to two locations in Alabama.

The pilots, navigating 44 Cessna 172, 9 multi-engine Diamond 42, 8 Piper Arrow, and 1 Beechcraft Baron aircraft through a thick band of rain, were grateful to be hosted by Auburn University and Atlantic Aviation once they reached Alabama.

A new video conveys the urgency and complexity of Embry-Riddle’s fleet relocation effort right before Hurricane Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key on the morning of Sept. 10.

"The planning of this is fairly complex, logistically," said Ken Byrnes, Chair of the Flight Department at Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach campus. "It's not just hopping in airplanes and going across the country. You have to make sure, first of all, that the airport can handle the volume that we're bringing to them, that they have the fuel to fuel the aircraft, that they have the rental cars, and importantly, the hotel rooms."

Whenever a major storm approaches the campus, Byrnes continued: "We have a whole hurricane-evacuation plan, with different airports selected throughout the Southeastern United States, and we will go to whatever one we think is best to wait out the storm."

P. Barry Butler, president of Embry-Riddle, said: "Our flight instructors who are flying our aircraft are all very experienced individuals. They're incredibly professional in what they do. They operate in a very safe manner."

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James Roddey
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
since: 02/2010
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