September 12, 2017

Austin Bar Member Keith Hopkinson Airlifts Supplies to Harvey Victims in Beaumont/Port Arthur

On September 9, Winstead attorney Keith Hopkinson, along with fiancée and ‘co-pilot’ Alyssa Pennington, enlisted his single engine Grumman AA-5 Tiger, and joined a squadron of 40 private planes in a coordinated airlift of supplies and essentials to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Beaumont/Port Arthur. The group of private pilots assembled at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport where area Boy Scouts helped load planes with school supplies, canned goods, toilet paper, hygiene products and paper towels.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) arranged a special flight corridor for the air transport operation to fly to Beaumont/Port Arthur airport, approximately 250 miles east. Off-duty officers with the Port Arthur Police Department assisted unloading the planes upon their arrival at the airport.

Many pilots refueled and flew south along the coast and south Houston and on to Rockport where the eye of Hurricane Harvey made landfall 2 weeks prior. “The devastation was significant,” said Hopkinson, attorney with Winstead PC in Austin, Texas. “It was very eerie taxiing to the airport terminal past destroyed hangars, planes and dozens of vehicles. The runway lights at the Rockport airport were operating but were not visible because each one had sheet metal wrapped around them from the storm.”

After landing Keith and Alyssa spent several hours assisting the Rockport Rotary Club with unloading additional small aircraft which had also flown in with supplies for the devastated coastal town. They refueled and returned to Austin, arriving just at sunset. “We could roughly estimate at least 5 tons of supplies were delivered by the combined effort,” Keith noted. “It was a very long but highly rewarding day for everyone involved.”