Pilots fleeing storm seek safe haven here
Published 1:02 am Thursday, October 6, 2016
While many Floridians are gassing up their cars and evacuating from coastal cities before major Hurricane Matthew wreaks havoc, a group of 11 pilots from West Palm Beach has chosen Andalusia as a safe haven for themselves and eight of their 14 planes.
Michelle Edwards of West Palm Beach Flight School said that Andalusia was their backup plan.
Edwards said that officials at South Alabama Regional Airport were so welcoming that they decided to come to Andalusia instead.
Edwards said the group plans to return to West Palm Beach on Saturday.
They flew eight planes to Andalusia and hangared six in West Palm Beach, she said.
Edwards said this is the first evacuation for her in her eight-year tenure in Florida.
“We normally hangar them,” she said. “But we took our better planes with us.”
She said the training school was established 19 years ago and they have all kinds of students who come through their doors, from pilots wanting to fly commercial airlines and those who leisurely want to fly their families to the Florida Keys.
Edwards said she called their favorite students and instructors to come with them to flee the storm.
They had two people who drove up. At least half a million people from Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas were urged to evacuate from their homes.
Wednesday afternoon, Matthew was a dangerous 120 mph category 3 hurricane.
As of 4 p.m., CDT, Wednesday the hurricane was centered some 400 miles southeast of West Palm Beach.
The latest cone of probable path from the National Weather Service has the storm affecting Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, then looping back toward Florida.