SHELBY COUNTY, ALA. - A group of Alabama pilots are planning a fly-out to help revive Gatlinburg’s tourism industry after the deadly November wildfires.
More than 20 single-engine planes will leave the Shelby County (Alabama) Airport on Jan. 28 to show their support for the Smokies.
The planes will take off three at a time, the fastest ones first, to make the trip to Sevier County to remind people that Gatlinburg is open and a great place to visit.
The trip from Shelby County will take a couple hours, but for some making the journey, the special mission hits especially close to home.
"We have two pilots who are going with us that lost their homes completely,” pilot John Barnes told Birmingham NBC-affiliate WVTM.
One pilot shared photos of his home burned to the ground, but said many are far worse off than he is.
That's why those involved want to give back in this unique way.
The group did a similar fly-out in 2010 for Gulf Shores residents suffering from the BP oil spill in the gulf. They anticipate this trip to also be a success.
"We’re going to have badges say SCAA, that stands for Shelby County Aviation Association, our group of pilots here to support Gatlinburg,” Barnes said.
Barnes said even when making the reservations, they avoided looking for discounts or deals. They are going there for the sole purpose to support the economy there and to get the word out to remind visitors to go to Sevier County.