I am supposed to be working on my homework and then going to bed so I can get up early and vote, but Martha has the TV on, following what is happening in Haiti.
She is currently listening to CNN and Anderson Cooper is talking about how "Doctors Without Borders" didn't get to land at the airport in Port au Prince, but had to divert to the Dominican Republic and then travel by truck, over the mountains. Mr Cooper then asserts that people died due to the delay. Then he points out that the plane of a US Governor did get in, and departed with some children from an orphanage, to go to their adoptive parents. He then asks a colleague, "Who is in charge?" The colleague says it is chaos, and he is correct.
I would suggest that before he bring up this topic Mr Cooper should be talking to the folks running the air traffic control at the Haiti airport. We have been told it is a small airport and that means there is a limit as to what can be on the ground. Thus, if the Governor's airplane takes up less space (length and wingspan) than the airplane of Doctors Without Borders, if might be able to squeeze in, while the Dw/oB airplane can't at that time.
Then there is the question of if the Doctors Without Borders plane had gotten itself included in the flow control, so that it had a slot to land, unload and then depart. (I suspect there is also the question of if it would need fuel from the Airport in Haiti or if it could depart without refueling, thus not increasing the demand to fly in fuel).
Going back to when I was young, if the weather in the Eifel part of Germany was bad, one did not launch without an EAC—an Expected Approach Clearance. The EAC was your promise that the airfield would be yours for a block of time, in case of radio failure or other problems. I have been in flights that aborted down the runway because we could not get an EAC that matched our available fuel.
And, there is the question of what has a priority and if there is an abort enroute, which opens up a slot to bring in someone else, who is ready. This is a complicated dance and the folks working it are experts. Is it possible that the Air Force Air Traffic Controllers gave a pass to some state governor? Yes, but before we say it was wrong we need to know all the circumstances and Mr Cooper didn't lay out a story that suggested he had a grasp on all those circumstances. On any given day a C-17 with pallets of bottled water might be more important than a plane load of doctors supported by Doctors without Borders. Dehydration can kill you just as surely as not getting a needed operation. And, maybe it is just a critical spare part to repair a potable water making machine.
War and humanitarian relief efforts are chaos with people trying to bring order to what is happening and often different people are doing conflicting things, at a time when each thinks he or she is doing the best thing. Sometimes it is a case of placing your money and taking your chance.
In this case, circumstances put me in a position to hear the report and to throw the flag.
The US has apparently also offended the French. As Professor Glenn Reynolds, over at Instapundit (hat tip) commented, "Perhaps the French can send their own aircraft carriers, floating seaports, and massive logistical teams, then. Oh, wait . . . .". It was, after all, their colony once upon a time. Or maybe they are unhappy that we are doing the heavy lifting.
Regards — Cliff
1 year ago