Military planes fleeing powerful Hurricane Irma landed at Wright-Patterson on Friday as the churning storm that caused deadly destruction in the Caribbean takes aim at Florida.
The Wright-Patterson flight line since Thursday has recorded the arrival of 12 F-15 Eagle fighter planes from the Florida Air National Guard in Jacksonville, and four Navy P-8 Poseidon and five P-3 Orion anti-submarine hunting planes from Naval Air Station Jacksonville among a parade of planes expected to grow larger, according to Col. Bradley McDonald, Wright-Patterson installation commander.
A total of six C-17 Globemaster III transport planes were set to land Friday evening and Saturday from Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. A half dozen Navy F/A-18 fighter jets were tentatively scheduled to arrive early next week, he added.
“We continue to serve as a safe haven for aircraft,” McDonald said in an interview Friday. “… There’s a lot of fluidity to this process and requests continue to flow in. Previous or existing requests are modified as folks are watching things.”
The pilots and aircraft were expected to stay into next week “but the weather and where the hurricane goes will really dictate that for us,” he said.
As more aircraft rolled onto the landing strip, 97 Wright-Patterson medical personnel — including surgeons, nurses and physical therapists — who can operate a 25-patient clinic, were placed on standby for possible orders to respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Irma’s destruction, McDonald said.
Wright-Patterson was told to be ready to supply equipment for pediatric and geriatric patients, he said. The personnel are assigned to the Wright-Patterson Medical Center.
“We don’t know at this time if and when they will be deployed,” he said. “…Our hearts go out to those impacted and potentially impacted by Hurricane Irma. We stand ready to support where able.”
More than 50 Dayton VA Medical Center were on standby to potentially respond to hurricane relief efforts, said VA spokesman Ted Froats. One of the hospital’s pharmacy technicians was sent to a VA facility in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey hit the region last month.
On Thursday, a C-17 based at Wright-Patterson flew to Florida to pick up a HH-60 Pavehawk and transport the helicopter to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., according to Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris, a spokeswoman with the 445th Airlift Wing.
The wing flew three C-17s to Texas after Hurricane Harvey left devastating floods in the Gulf Coast state.
The latest projections show Hurricane Irma on track to hit south Florida this weekend.