Pilots donate Aztec to Bahamas Habitat

Walt and Raeanna Gislason of Willmar, Minnesota, have donated a Piper Aztec to Bahamas Habitat, a nonprofit organization that supports housing and disaster relief work in the Bahamas and Caribbean, as well as introduces pilots to mission flying opportunities.

The couple made the donation to enable the organization to provide logistical support for disaster relief in the islands of the Bahamas and Haiti. “After my wife, Raeanna and I read about the excellent work that Bahamas Habitat is doing, we thought we could be of assistance by donating this aircraft that would be better used in their mission work,” Walt said.

Bahamas Habitat has used donated aircraft over the last two years to support disaster relief efforts from the earthquake in Haiti in January and February of 2010, and more recently to help alleviate the suffering from the effects of Hurricane Irene in the Bahamas, according to officials. When there aren’t disasters to respond to, the organization uses the planes to support ongoing building projects in the Bahamas like the building of a Children’s Home on Current Island and in support of its main base camp on Eleuthera.

Bahamas Habitat officials note that if other aircraft owners would like to make a donation, they have until Jan. 1, 2012, to take advantage of full deductibility on 2011 tax returns. Contact Steve Merritt at 919-280-5510 or treasurer@bahamashabitat.org.

“Donating an aircraft is quick and easy and generates real money for the donor in the form of reduced taxes or refunds, so it can be a very viable solution for owners wishing to sell or dispose of their aircraft and get an immediate return,” said John Armstrong, president of Bahamas Habitat.

Bahamas Habitat is currently conducting its year-end online fund raising campaign, where donors can make pledges of cash, future payments, or vehicles such as aircraft. Funds benefit the operation of the mission and for the completion of the Children’s Home on Current Island.

The organization is hosting its next “Fly-In & Help Out” event Feb. 16–19, 2012. Pilots and volunteers interested in becoming involved in flying missions with Bahamas Habitat can sign up online.

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