Delta Dispatches: Seeing Louisiana’s Coast from Above
On today’s show Simone & Jacques talk with Meredith Dowling, Associate Executive Director and Emmet Bartholomew, Gulf Region Volunteer Pilot Recruitment of Southwings about how Southwings organization provides a network of volunteer pilots to advocate for the restoration and protection of the ecosystems and biodiversity of the Southeast through flight.
Below is a transcript of this week’s Delta Dispatches Podcast. Listen to the full recording or subscribe to our feed in iTunes and Google Play.
Simone: Did you miss me, Jacques?
Jacques: You know Simone, I always miss you. But I’m glad to have you back. How’s it going this week?
Simone: I need another vacation.
Jacques: Yeah, well I might be going on vacation next week.
Simone: Can I come? No, we had a great trip. I’m sorry I missed the show, you had a great show.
Jacques: It was a really great, informative show. I was so thankful to our guests to be on. It was of course the first day of the Atlantic hurricane season and we were talking both hurricane storm predictions for the season as well as preparedness. So, I was grateful to have Alek Krautmann who is with NOAA’s national weather service right here in Louisiana and Mike Steele with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness or GOHSEP.
I just really want to reiterate the sources that we mentioned on the show last week because it’s important people use them now. As Mike said, we need to prepare year-round of a disaster as we learned too much. Now is the time to prepare, not when a storm is in the Gulf. So, the first resource is getagameplan.org. It has a ton of resources for you and your family to be able to prepare, you know to build your own plan for your family, for your business and learn what resources are available to you this hurricane this season. Again, we’ve been lucky, but we always have to be prepared.
Simone: Yeah, definitely. It seems like we might never forget, right? But then as each year passes you just get to be a little more casual about it. I know sometimes people are turned off by a false alarm, but we would rather be prepared and take all the necessary actions. That’s great. I think that’s great. It’s always a nice reminder. I love the idea of like a structure of helping people get a plan together. I’m sure you talked about pets and things like that. A lot of times that’s one thing that people are holding back about.
Jacques: Yeah, we did talk about that and another thing that Mike brought up was just how many new people have moved to the New Orleans area since Katrina.
Simone: Good point, very good point.
Jacques: They really haven’t gone through a big storm or they maybe had to evacuate for Isaac, but people need to know like the ongoing threat and have a plan. AS for pets, that was a devastating thing we saw in Katrina, right? How many people stayed back because they couldn’t take their pets with them or how many people were separated from their pets. Mike gave a great update on what’s been done since Katrina to make sure people can evacuate with their pets, that shelters are taking pets, hotels are taking pets. There’s resources on their site, getagameplan.org, that you can go to and understand that having a pet, they’re a member of your family, but you need to evacuate with them. Don’t stay back.
Simone: Right, absolutely. The good news is that, while it’s a great reminder for the first of hurricane season, things like our podcast live on, right? So, we also need to do our own part all during the hurricane season and be able to share that information and to remind people it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off guard. I’ve met Alek before at the Tulane Engineering forum and I had the pleasure of going after him. He is a wonderful numbers guy, data guy, and he was talking about the floods last year, I think it was May and August, that we even forget that there were two floods from just rain fall. He had some incredible numbers to share and he just said, “Oh I just looked this up for fun.” But it’s amazing that when you look historically back at things like that and you can compare things. It’s so nice to have somebody like Alek. He’s a St. Louis guy, right? We just dragged him down the river.
Jacques: Yep and now he’s in Slidell working on this day in and day out. You know the resource there for you to track your weather on a daily basis but then also, of course, any tropical activity is weather.gov/lix and that will take you right to our Louisiana kind of weather forecasting. He did comment on just how, you know, of an active year it’s been for weather in Louisiana.
Jacques: We’ve seen that much. Which just reinforces that point that you just need to be prepared, have your emergency kit stocked and have family members who are ready to help you if you need to evacuate. Even things like taking copies of your birth certificate and maybe uploading them to somewhere like Dropbox or saving them with a family.
Simone: Yeah, that is a great, great reminder. You probably didn’t know but I wanted to be a meteorologist weather girl at one point in my life and then I figured out that was like a whole lot of math and numbers and science.
Jacques: Yeah, Simone, you would’ve been a great meteorologist.
Simone: No. No. No.
Jacques: I can just see now.
Jacques: In front of the green screen.
Simone: But to kind of reiterate a point you just brought up. You know we see more and more severe weather activities, and like you said, active hurricane season, but also the floods and more extreme weather events. We’ve seen studies come out where that is becoming more common, these extreme weather events. So, it’s always nice to have that conversation before rather than after.
Also, while I was gone you did all these things without me. It’s like you didn’t even need me to be here. Kind of passed the Master Plan.
Jacques: Yeah, Simone. Maybe you should go out of town more often.
Simone: I know, that’s what I’m thinking. My work here was done, so. We did get the good news that the Master Plan passed, so that’s great.
Jacques: Yeah, it was unanimous vote in the House. It passed all the committees, it passed the Senate of course. I know the folks at the Costal Protection Restoration Authority are probably really pleased after years of hard work on this Master Plan that had so much input from the public, from other stake holders. As a reminder this the 2017 Coastal Master Plan. This is the state’s plan for addressing land loss, helping protect communities, protect industry, through a mix of restoration and what we call risk reduction projects. It’s a huge accomplishment for the state. It really is a model for so many places around the world of how to deal with these threats. So, they deserve a huge kudos. So, what happens now?
Simone: Yeah, they’re not out the woods yet. They have a couple more bills and hopefully we can have like a legislative wrap up in the future, but there’s a couple of other bills that affect coastal restoration and are happening right now in the legislature. Right? There’s also some things happening on the federal level that we’ll talk about in just a second.
One thing that we’ve talked about before when we had Andrea on, was that the CPRA has this amazing tool called the Flood Risk and Resiliency Viewer. So, if you’re curious about what the Coastal Master Plan is, if you’ve heard us talk about it before or you just want to find out more about where you live and what risk you have, or what solutions are being planned for your area go to coastal.la.gov. It’s on their homepage. You can literally enter in an address on, it looks like a Google Maps type interface, and it zeros in on that particular address and it tells you your flood risk now and into the future based on different environmental scenarios, a future without any projects.
It also tells you some of the Master Plan projects being built for this area and that includes the 2017 data. So, it is up to date, it is very current. If you don’t want to look at that closely into your own neighborhood or into your own backyard you can also pull out and look at a coast-wide view. I cannot reiterate what an amazing tool it is. It’s always available online at coastal.la.gov. If you’re ever curious about that or even if your kindergartner needs to do a project, they have tons of information there.
I mentioned federal legislation, so that was one of the bad things that happened while I was gone.
Jacques: Yeah, we discussed this in a prior episode, but the current White House budget would basically get rid of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which is a significant source of consistent revenue that Louisiana voters constitutionally protected to go to coastal restoration protection and infrastructure activities.
Simone: Yeah we talked about this before. Not the first time an administration has threatened to take that away from us. We’re seeing this same type of reaction from our delegation, which is really great. The Louisiana delegation has been very, very strong on the issue. As a matter of fact, Congressman Scalise even penned an Op Ed talking about that over the past few years there’s been several attempts to take this revenue away from Louisiana and other energy producing states. But make no mistake, like in previous years I will not allow this critical coastal restoration money to be raided. It’s too important to Louisiana’s future and is vital to our coastal restoration efforts. This isn’t a partisan issue and we enjoy strong bipartisan support in protecting these funds for Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states.
Jacques: Strong words and really important message in the Times-Picayune from Representative Scalise. You can go online to MississippiRiverDelta.org/takeaction to actually vocalize your support for GOMESA and send it to your representative and members of congress. So, please do that. We’re about to head into a break but we’ve got some great guests and partners on this show today.
Simone: Yes. Two of my favorite partners that we work with. So, we’ll come back after the break. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches.
Jacques: Welcome back. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches. We’re discussing Louisiana’s coast, its people, wildlife, and jobs and why restoring it matters.
We’re really excited to have two great people on the show today. They’re with an organization that has been an immense help and partner to Simone and myself as we try to raise awareness to go to Louisiana land loss crisis, what’s going on and what needs to be done to fix it. They’re with SouthWings, which is an organization that helps get people up in the air. There’s no better way to really see what’s happening in Louisiana than through fly-overs of the coast. And they have been so gracious and generous in offering their time and resources to help us do that with policy makers, with journalists, and others. So, we’re excited to have them on, talk a little bit about their organization and what motivates them to do this work.
Simone: Yeah I hadn’t actually heard of SouthWings until maybe about a year or more so ago. And now they’re probably sorry that I’ve heard from them because I have asked them for a lot of favors and a lot of help over time. But it’s really amazing and Jacques and I are excited to get the word out about their work and what they do. More importantly, we want to introduce some of the people that do that work.
Meredith Dowling, the Associate Executive Director. Since 2012 Meredith has led SouthWings’ work to protect and restore the ecosystems of the Gulf Coast, focusing in particular on the Mississippi River Delta. I think she’s a New Orleans native, or she’s a New Orleans resident now, if I remember correctly, yeah. So, we’ll adopt her, right?
So, you were with SouthWings before, you were hired, you were an Operations Assistant, and then you did some Appalachia work, and then you went to grad school for a little while, right? And then it sucked you back in, sucked you back in. But since September of 2016 you’ve been the Associate Executive Director. Welcome, Meredith.
Meredith: Thank you so much for having me.
Simone: We’ll talk about our other guest right now and then we’ll get back to tag-teaming with both of you guys.
Jacques: Yeah, and we’re also excited to have on Emmet Bartholomew. I’ve had the pleasure of being on several flights over coastal Louisiana with Emmet Bartholomew. Not only is he an amazing pilot, but he’s quite the fun guide for these flights. So, Emmet is the Gulf Region Volunteer Pilot Recruiter for SouthWings in addition to being a volunteer pilot. He’s a lifelong resident of southeastern Louisiana. He joined SouthWings in 2014. In addition to flying with SouthWings, he is also an airline pilot, Assistant Chief Pilot with a flight school and Captain, mission pilot, safety officer with the U.S. Air Force Civil Air Patrol. Welcome to the show, Emmet.
Emmet: Thanks so much, Jacques. I appreciate it.
Simone: Meredith, why don’t you start off by telling us just about SouthWings. Tell us about your mission, how did it get started, give us some details.
Meredith: Sure. So, I guess just to get started, SouthWings was founded in 1996. We’re currently headquartered in Asheville, North Carolina, and we’ve got an office here in New Orleans, as you mentioned. We have been here since 2012 and since then our local volunteer pilots have taken more than 200 flights in coastal Louisiana. And Emmet, as you mentioned also, is one of those volunteers. So, I’m really glad to have him here with us today to talk about his role in this work because that’s really the heart and soul of what we do.
We’re a volunteer pilot organization and we exist to support the environmental movement. To provide the tool flight to make the work that you guys do and so many other partners around here, to make that possible.
Jacques: Right, and we appreciate that so much and have definitely, you know, relied on your resources and your time to get national journalists and policy makers and others up in the air to see what’s going on. There’s no other way to do that. I wish we could do it for more people.
Meredith, can you talk a little bit about why as an organization you all are prioritizing southern Louisiana?
Meredith: Absolutely. I think as you all have probably seen, when we’re living in a time of rising sea levels, there’s a lot here that is of interest to the whole country. We’ve got to figure out how to solve these issues and how to keep living in the coast. The Coastal Master Plan, which we’ve just gotten passed here, that was incredible news, so that’s really a huge benefit for all of us. It’s really important to have that plan for how we’re going to be moving forward. So, I think, you know, it’s a nationally important ecosystem. I mean we could talk about all the statistics, everyone knows how important this coast is to our country. Then also I think the threat is something that more and more people are understanding. That’s really our role here is to help people understand both the threats that we’re facing from coastal land loss, and also some of the solutions. The scale of those issues I think is something that the tool of flight really lends itself especially well.
Simone: So, tell us about some of the people you take up in the air. I mean, I know from person experience some of the people that we do. But, in general, do you take people that are familiar with the coast? I almost always found that when we take people up, even people familiar with the coast are surprised to see that bird’s eye view and the perspective that SouthWings is able to offer. So, tell us what types of people do you take up?
Meredith: Absolutely. So, there’s a huge range of people. I think, you know, everyone from local advocates who’ve lived here all their lives, who have been doing this work forever and who are really familiar with these issues on the ground. I think, as you’re suggesting, even those folks when they fly above it can be really shocking to see the scale of the problem that we’re dealing with. I know for myself personally that was really just an incredible experience the first time I flew here. I had learned about these issues in grad school. I could quote many of the statistics that I’m sure you guys know so well about how many football fields of land we’re losing. What is it, more than one an hour? So, those are the kind of things I understood in theory, but when you see this with your own eyes it really changes things. So, that’s something we try to make available to a huge range of people. I also think as you mentioned policy makers who are thinking about these issues. So, we’ve flown with local Parish Presidents, we’ve flown with State Legislators, we’ve flown with even a sitting-
Simone: U.S. Senator?
Meredith: Yeah. That was really exciting. That was pretty recent. But because the ecosystem is so important to the nation, it attracts a huge range of people. We’ve flown with, of course, all the local media who are covering these issues, but also plenty of national and international media as well. This ecosystem is really important on a global scale as well as a national scale.
Simone: Yeah, the example of the US Senator that recently flew with you guys. You know we had a very limited amount of time and we wanted to talk about this issue. She was deeply interested in water management issues even though she hails from a state that you maybe wouldn’t think that. It was a perfect snap shot for us to be able to showcase the issue, to be able to talk about it, but then as we usually do, you also try to frame up some of the solutions that we have. We’ve of course been with state delegation folks that were important, one that carried the, that helped carry the Master Plan through some of the committees and shepherded it that way. It’s just amazing point of view that people don’t always have and it’s been very important for us to offer.
Jacques, I know you’ve taken some press up there, international, national press too.
Jacques: Yeah, I mean we’ve had, of course as you mentioned, local journalists. But during the Katrina 10th Anniversary there was such an influx of media from all over the world who really wanted to know how is Louisiana doing 10 years later; how has the region recovered from this terrible storm? We were able to highlight the progress as well as the need for more work, thanks to the help from SouthWings and getting people up in the air.
I know that was kind of a crazy time for so many people here in New Orleans. Meredith, how was that for you all going through the 10th Anniversary and having that influx of people who were so eager to kind of get up and see what was going on?
Meredith: Well, I mean as you said, that of course is a very hard time for everyone here. Speaking as someone who did not live through that experience I can only say that I was just glad to have the opportunity to help us figure out how to move forward, at least from the wetlands side of things.
You know the wetlands, I’m sure as you talk about so often, are really that first line of defense that we have. So, that was really a moment where everyone was trying to get a grasp on what have we done so far, what do we still need to do? I think wetland restoration is a huge part of that and that’s something that’s really hard to wrap your mind around until you fly over it. Until you see it from the air and you can really see the scale of the problem and also the scale of all the restoration solutions. I think, as you mentioned Simone, that’s something that we can show people in a quick hour, maybe two hours. It’s something that could otherwise just take them weeks or months to try to really grasp what’s the scale of this issue we’re dealing with.
Jacques: All right, you see the maps, you see the models, but until you get up and actually see it in real life it’s hard to really understand the scale and the scope. So, Meredith, we’re going to talk a little bit more with you and Emmet when we come back from break.
But for now, where can people go to learn more about SouthWings support, donate to SouthWings, if they’re a pilot, volunteer?
Meredith: Our website southwings.org is a great place to get started. Anyone out there who is listening who is a pilot who’s interested in the environment here in coastal Louisiana, we would love your help. So, that website’s another good place to get started and Emmet Bartholomew who will speak with you in a second is someone, a great person to talk to.
Jacques: Great. We’ll be right back. This is Delta Dispatches.
Simone: Welcome back to Delta Dispatches, this is Simone Maloz with Restore or Retreat. We’re here every Thursday on 990 WGSO and online through our new podcast. But we are here with Emmet Bartholomew who’s a volunteer pilot and also recruiter, right?
Emmet: Thanks so much for having me.
Simone: I should not have done that in front of the stand-up comedian, correct?
Emmet: I have my reference card today so…
Simone: Emmet also has jokes when you fly with him and some nervous passengers might not always appreciate that, but it is always an ice breaker for sure. Welcome to the show, Emmet. We’re so glad to have you with us.
You know, we were just talking about some things during the break. Emmet, with all of your experience, what’s the number one question, thought, reaction that you get from passengers when you do these flyovers from the coast?
Emmet: The very first question is, “How long have I been flying?” That’s usually the first one.
Simone: They want to see your driver’s license?
Emmet: Yeah, I think they, the request for the driver’s license, yes. I think, “Wow, you really don’t have a lot of requirements for your pilot, do you?” I think once we’re flying one of the big questions is how I’ve seen the changes in the environment over the time that I have been flying. There have been a great deal of changes in just the time that I have been a pilot. My experience now, I’ve been flying for right at a decade. Actually this November will make 10 years since I have gotten my pilot’s license. Right after my pilot’s license, one of the big things I wanted to do was to fly down to the mouth of the Mississippi River and see it from the air, at 2,000 feet. Beautiful, crystal clear day, I flew down there and saw all of the beauty of all of the passes and the shipping and everything. Then when I did a 180 degree turn and looked back toward the city, I could see the city. It was right there in clear sight and I had a perfect view to what was between the city and the Gulf of Mexico.
To see the damage, wetland areas, and to see how close the city was to the Gulf, really gave me a whole different meaning to what we live with here in south Louisiana. My thought right there was that if everyone in the city of New Orleans saw what I was seeing at that very moment, everything would change overnight. There would be protests, there would be people screaming and hollering. Everyone would be on the telephone. This would be like the number one news story. But, when you see it through pictures or video, it doesn’t do it justice. It never will.
The first time I went to Colorado, I came back home, “Oh look at these pictures, it’s so beautiful.” “Oh, well what is that?” Well it doesn’t look the same. And it’s the same thing in flying people over these areas. I think that that’s where the rubber truly meets the road is that when you’re there and you see it first hand, and you know that this is your backyard and it’s all that you have between you and the mighty Gulf of Mexico, that is really an epiphany moment. It’s a scary moment. So, that sort of changed my whole mindset.
Jacques: You’ve obviously been flying over the area pretty regularly, and you see a lot more than most people will every have an opportunity to see. Both restored barrier islands, to grated marshes, to sites for future massive restoration projects, have you see change either positive or negative in that time since you’ve been flying and since you had that epiphany?
Emmet: Right, I have seen change both ways, both positive and negative. Most of the change that I take more note of has been, since I have been flying with SouthWings for the last two years, now being more aware of a lot of the troubled areas and a lot of the restoration projects that are underway. Clearly, some of the positive change, are in those projects. Some of the barrier islands that have been built up now, a lot of the terraces that have been built to protect the environment. Those are showing very positive signs. On the flip side of that coin, the negative side, I think unfortunately is outweighing the positive, because we are fighting a losing battle.
From the time that I’ve been flying and been going down there, there’s been a huge difference in the amount of land loss that has occurred. Clearly every time we have a storm we lose an exponential amount. When, just regular day, today, the winds blowing a little stronger, we’re going to be losing probably more than a football field per hour of our wetlands. That just adds up very quickly. We need to add more than a football field per hour. Unfortunately that’s not happening.
Jacques: Right, I mean it’s such an important reminder that we really can’t apply Band-Aids to this situation. We need kind of massive, large-scale restoration projects. Projects like that are in the Coastal Master Plan and others that utilize the resources we have to combat this problem.
In terms of your kind of personal epiphany and your experience flying, what kind of first got you connected with SouthWings to being kind of a volunteer pilot with SouthWings and also working to recruit other pilots to kind of do what you’re doing?
Emmet: Well, I guess from my standpoint with aviation, as with many pilots, we have a passion for a lot of things. One of which would be airplanes and the magic of being able to fly. I think a lot of pilots just love the view out the window. That’s one of the big perks of the job. For me, seeing the need in Louisiana, knowing this is my home, and this where I’m from, wanting to make a difference I think was the first big step.
Then, being able to pair my aviation passion and experience with an incredibly good cause such as what SouthWings does. It was really a perfect marriage for me. I originally found out about the organization at the time I was still a little under qualified for what we were looking for as far as for volunteer pilots. But the moment that I reached that level I made contact with them, got involved, learned more about the organization. At that point I just realized that this is so important and it’s such a great way for me to pair what I can do to help bring people to see such important causes here in Louisiana.
Simone: So, Emmet, these pilots, they don’t have to be coastal experts right? You train them. I know that y’all have a program where y’all kind of partnered together. You let somebody try it out to see if they maybe go on a flight with you to see if it might be something that they’re interested in. So, maybe just even talk about the process a little bit so that they may be willing to take that first step.
Emmet: Right, absolutely. We’re not looking for a pilot to be a coastal expert or borderline scientist or something. What we need is just someone who has a passion for aviation and a passion for loving their environment and wanting to make that difference. I think that that’s really the only qualifications that are needed. Outside of that, we would take a pilot, we would not only train them in what we do, but they would start learning more and more of the environment. Eventually I found myself helping with the tours, helping the guides that we brought on the airplane to point things out to people. I have learned an incredible amount just from the amount of flights that I’ve done helping with the environmental efforts here in Louisiana.
Simone: So, if somebody’s listening right now and what do they need to do?
Emmet: Well, if they’re a pilot and they want to help make a difference with this organization and with all of our wonderful causes, I would say all they have to do is go to southwings.org. All the information is there for making contact with us. From that point, if they’re in Louisiana here, they would most likely be directed to me so that then I can meet with them, give them many more specifics, discuss the flying profiles of what we do and how we do it, how we keep our flights incredibly safe and very accommodating to the passengers. I would also express to them the rewarding experience that every flight is.
Every time I have flown a SouthWings flight, I feel that I have gotten so much more from it personally than what I have done and given. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience. The people I have met, the things that they have then done to champion our causes, in all different levels of government, and community, and through social media. It’s amazing to see the little seed that I planted and how it sprouts and does such incredible things after the fact.
Simone: Yeah we did a flyover, I think in December. It was one of the most beautiful days all year we did a flyover. We tried a new route where we flew out of New Orleans airport but we flew down to Galliano. Then we flew down, we flew out to Wax Lake. So, the passengers, which were state representatives and senators, important chairs of committees, they got to see the extremes, right? The beautiful Wax Lake Delta building but then just miles away the deteriorating Terrebonne basin. For them to see that, it was really important, I think impactful, for that day.
We were in the legislative session listening to the Master Plan. This was maybe just a couple weeks ago and Senator Norby Chabert, who is really important to the Master Plan process, mentioned that flyover by name and said it was really important that people got that perspective. He thanked us and thanked you guys for allowing that. So, even months later, and something so critical to what we do, for him to have mentioned the importance of that flyover. Senator Chabert grew up in Chauvin and he’s a Louisiana native, so that made a real difference. It made a real impact for us. Thank you both for being on.
Jacques: Yeah, and we have a few more questions, so we’ll stick around for after break and we’ll get to those questions. You’re listening to Delta Dispatches on WGSSO 990AM.
Simone: Welcome back to Delta Dispatches, this is Simone Maloz. We’re entering into our fourth and final segment with Meredith Dowling and Emmet Bartholomew of SouthWings, a great partner organization of both Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition and Restore or Retreat. Thank you guys for being on.
I’ve missed this part. So, thank you, Jacques, for letting me do this. It’s time for the fun question of the day. So, being a pilot, flying people, if you could fly anywhere in the world, where would you go? Right now, this afternoon to have a drink.
Emmet: So, Meredith moves the mic my direction. So, if I could fly anywhere in the world.
Simone: To have a cocktail.
Emmet: To have a cocktail, okay. All right, let’s see. I would probably want to go to Cuba right now. I think that that would just be a unique experience and someplace that’s not too far away, but just right around the corner, one of our neighbors, to really experience an incredible culture. I have no idea what sort of drinks they have. Hopefully I wouldn’t order a drink and they hand me a cigar. I wouldn’t know what to do with it.
Simone: They probably have fruity stuff, it doesn’t matter. Right? Fruity is international.
Simone: You had longer time to think about this, so what’s your answer?
Meredith: So, I think I would just fly around with Emmet here in this beautiful Delta, park it and then go straight to my favorite bar in New Orleans because nobody does it quite like New Orleans. So, I would head straight to Cure and have a Sazerac.
Jacques: There you go, you’re a local girl already. Don’t want to go anywhere but home. Thank you again, both so much for being on. I just want to reiterate if there are any pilots out there listening who want to get involved, let’s give them some more information so they know what they can do, they can get in touch with you, Emmet. Hopefully one day they can be up in the air showing people both the need for restoration and what needs to be done. So, let’s, Emmet, tell us a little bit more about what volunteer pilots can do through SouthWings and how they do it.
Emmet: So, I think our volunteer pilots, first off, every one of them that we have are just incredible. They come into the organization, they are just excellent airman. They have such a positive, excellent attitude. They work so well with all of our partners. They have a passion for flying. They have a passion for showing people everything from the air and showing them the airplane and going through all the safety practices and really sharing their aviation enthusiasm with everyone. That’s what they really possess.
Our main requirement is just that a pilot have access, own or have access to an airplane and that they would have at least a minimum of 750 piloting command hours. The reason for that is that we do want to have a decent level of experience so that as they fly passengers, they aren’t feeling like they’re in over their head. They’re very comfortable with the airplane, what the mission is, how to work with passengers, some adverse weather sometimes. Weather kicks up sometimes, we don’t know what it’s going to be. It looks like it’s going to be beautiful but then it’s not. how to best deal with some of those situations. That experience level we found is really a magic number that works in everyone’s favor. That’s really our main requirements. That’s it.
Outside of that, just having an open heart and wanting to come in and to learn. I would, and other pilots in SouthWings, would work very closely with them to bring them up to speed on how our flights are, the profiles, how to plan the flights, and work with the passengers. Outside of that, they would be able to then experience all of this and learn so much more about their backyard here in Louisiana.
Jacques: So, southwings.org and they can also email you, correct?
Emmet: Yes, they are very welcome to email me directly. My email address is email@example.com.
Jacques: Well thank you guys so much for being on. We really appreciate it. One last question for you, Meredith. What are some exciting flyovers or events that y’all have in the hopper?
Meredith: Well I guess thinking about what we’re working folks in your coalition. We’ve got some very cool flights planned with community leaders who’ve been active in the LA Safe program that’s going on. We’re really excited to get those planned. I think Emmet will be taking at least the first of those flights. But that’s a really good opportunity to help people learn about the Coastal Master Plan so that they can advocate for themselves in this process and make sure that as we’re moving forward here on the coast trying to figure out how we can all make this a place where future generations can keep living that people get to have a voice in that. I think that’s really important that citizens get to engage and have those tools and know how to engage and where to engage. I think that’s important for all of us.
Simone: Yeah, certainly we’ve had some LA Safe leaders on the program previously and LA Safe’s hosting their second round of community meetings over these past couple weeks. There hosting those meetings in Jefferson, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Tammany, Plaquemines, and St. John. You can find more information about those meetings, because they’ll come back again. This is a process that we have to follow. Their website is LASafe.la.gov. So, that’s a great tie in to our work and something else that we’re working on. We cannot thank you both enough for being on here with us. We look forward to having you again. Jacques and I definitely look forward to that Cuban cocktail. Yes? Definitely.
So, we just want to finish out talking about some things that we have on deck.
Jacques: Right. So, we’ve got some events coming up. You mentioned the LA Safe meeting. So, definitely if you’re in one of those parishes again they’re Jefferson, Lafourche, Terrebone St. Tammany, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist. Go to LASAfe.la.gov to learn more. Our partners, SouthWings operates out of the Lakefront airport which-
Simone: It’s so beautiful by the way, we didn’t even talk about that.
Jacques: It’s a beautiful place. I highly recommend you go spend a day out there.
Simone: And fried chicken on Tuesday’s. Emmet-
Jacques: Messinas on the Runway.
Simone: So, strange Emmet always plans flights for Tuesdays. That’s when, must be his day off from his commercial gig.
Jacques: Fried chicken Tuesday’s and it’s also just a beautiful architectural-
Simone: It is, it is.
Jacques: Treasure here in New Orleans and they restored it after Katrina. It’s kind of not a place people go too often, but I highly recommend it.
Simone: It’s so nice. It’s worth the trip out there. But our friends at Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, speaking of the lake, they’re doing a lakefront history trolley tour. They’ve been doing some really cool things lately at LPBF.
Jacques: Yeah, this is this Friday from 5:00-8:00PM and it’s at the New Canal Lighthouse Museum and Education Center. That’s 8001 Lakeshore Drive, right there kind of on Lakeshore Drive. It’s the New Canal Lighthouse that was rebuilt after Katrina. They do so many great events out there. You can go and tour the lighthouse during their operating hours. So, definitely check it out. You can go to saveourlake.org to learn more and hopefully we’ll see you there Friday night.
Simone: Yeah, that sounds cool. It’s a trolley car ride, you get to learn more about Lake Pontchartrain and Lakefront. Should be about half an hour or so. You can probably catch a beautiful sunset on the lake.
Jacques: Yep. And then, so our coalition, Restore the Mississippi River Delta is partnering with the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. We’re having an event on Tuesday, June 20th from 5-6:30 PM. That is at 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. And we’re actually going to be partnering with some chefs to do a Best of Bycatch cook off. So, you know, a lot of the species that may not be native to Louisiana, how can we use more of them so that we’re maybe getting them out of the waters and on to your plate. It should be an interesting event.
Simone: You’re fun question for the day, Jacque. What’s your favorite bycatch?
Simone: Just kidding.
Jacques: Well you’re putting me on the spot there. I think they’re going to be cooking Asian Carp, so I guess I’ll have to try that.
Simone: We had an Asian Carp experience when we were on the boat one time. We had some folks out in airboat out in Davis Pond and got hit by an Asian Carp. So, it’s free, public, educational event. Where’s it at Jacques?
Jacques: Again, it’s at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and that is 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. In New Orleans, Tuesday, June 20th, 4:30-6:30PM.
Simone: So, free, but an RSVP is required.
Jacques: Yeah and you can go on our Facebook to get more and RSVP.
Well, we’re coming to the close of another show. It’s been great to have you back, Simone.
Simone: Glad to be back.
Jacques: There’s still a lot of opportunities obviously, to get involved now that the Master Plan’s passed. We’re really pushing, kind of protecting the funding, as we mentioned, for the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act. You can go on our website mississippiriverdelta.org/takeaction to fill out one of those action alerts and it’ll go to your member of congress asking them to protect the funding for here in Louisiana.
Simone: Yeah, that’s such a great tool and easy tool for people who want to do something that maybe don’t know exactly how to get there, it makes it so easy for people to be able to take action. Jacques, if you miss this during the week, you know if you miss the sweet sound of our voice, where can you listen to us?
Jacques: You can go to mississippiriverdelta.org/deltadispatches. There’s all of our episodes there, so if you’re just tuning in and you want to catch prior episodes or make sure to subscribe to get future ones it’s all one stop shop, mississipiriverdelta.org/deltadispatches.
Simone: All right. Well thanks so much and I hope everyone has a great weekend.