When a natural disaster knocks out major roads, it becomes extremely difficult to deliver food and emergency supplies and evacuate vulnerable residents from the affected area.

That’s when local pilots could come to the rescue, says St. Helena pilot Marielle Coeytaux.

Coeytaux is trying to compile a list of local pilots and planes that could be called upon to help during an emergency. It’s called a Disaster Airlift Response Team (DART).

The idea originated with the California Pilots Association (CALPilots), where representatives work with local airports to assemble DART teams. Coeytaux is trying to assemble DART teams in Angwin, Napa, and other regional airports.

“The fires that we had in October sensitized us all about catastrophes that can happen here,” she said. “They taught us to be proactive and to have something in place before a catastrophe happens, so that if and when it does, we’re ready to go.”

Coeytaux is asking active general aviation pilots to email her at coeytauxmarielle@gmail.com with their name, email address, a description of their plane, and the airport where the plane is based.

“I’d love to have a list of airplanes even if they don’t have pilots, or active pilots that don’t have an airplane,” she said.

She said the information won’t be shared with CALPilots or anybody else. It will just help her form a list of contacts she could call upon with a blast email during a major fire, flood, earthquake or other disaster.

The goal is to establish a network of DARTs that can respond to emergencies in neighboring communities, Coeytaux said.

“If there’s a problem here, I can call upon the DARTs of Half Moon Bay or San Jose, and they could all help out,” she said.

To learn more about DART, go to calpilots.org/dart.

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St. Helena Reporter

Jesse has been a reporter for the St. Helena Star since 2006.