Bahamas Habitat’s 15th Fly In To Serve Others will take off Oct. 23 through Oct. 26.
“It’s an opportunity to use my flying skills and airplane to do something of value for someone, to serve others in a place I love,” says Steve Merritt, co-founder of Bahamas Habitat and participant in every fly-in.
The Fly In to Serve Others is a twice-a-year volunteer effort to deliver supplies and support for island projects.
Being one of the creators of the fly-in means Merritt has done it all — from construction of a storm-damaged home to being a part of the ribbon-cutting of the Zion Children’s Home for abused and neglected island kids, the primary mission focus of Bahamas Habitat.
But, one of the most memorable flights, he says, was when he returned to the US from The Bahamas with nine passengers – four-legged ones.
“Potcakes are the local dogs who live on the streets of the islands without a family or home,” he explains. “They’re named after the delicious bits of rice, vegetables and meat that cakes up on the bottom of a cooking pot — all the leftover bits. I was able to bring back nine of these dogs and place them in loving homes around the East Coast. That felt good!”
Open to both pilots and passengers with a passion for service, the four-day event begins Thursday, Oct. 23, with lunch north of Ft. Lauderdale in Fort Pierce, Florida, the Fly-In “launching pad.” After a check-in, the group takes flight. Friday’s work day has teams doing everything from painting a house to repairing an electrical system. Saturday, teams finish up and then take the afternoon off for sightseeing. Participants return to Florida on Sunday. The registration fee covers accommodations at mission base, Bahamas Methodist Habitat’s Camp Symonette, and most meals.
“Once you get past the front row of resorts and take the time to get to know the people of The Bahamas, you understand how great the need is to serve,” Merritt said. “The Fly-In gives pilots the chance to do what they’ve always wanted: To learn about flying internationally and test their aviation skills for long over-water flights. It’s a confidence-builder and an extraordinary adventure but, most of all, it’s an incredible opportunity for fellowship and service.”
Can’t come this year? Be a part of the experience and ship much-needed supplies and materials to the group’s Orlando distribution center at Showalter Flying Service, 400 Herndon Avenue, Orlando, Fla.
For more information: BahamasHabitat.org.