Pilots take people by the planeload to help Gulf Coast economy

Johnny Barnes (Source: WBRC video)
Johnny Barnes (Source: WBRC video)

By Janet Hall

CALERA, AL (WBRC) - Pilots like Johnny Barnes often take to the skies on the weekend just for fun, but this Saturday more than 25 private planes will take off from the Shelby County Airport with a purpose.

They are bringing about 70 people to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach wearing green t-shirts that say "Support the Gulf Coast." The idea is to fly-in customers for Gulf Coast restaurants and shops that are hurting from the oil spill.

Barnes got the idea after watching a FOX6 special showing the impact the oil spill is having on businesses. The idea started with a few pilots and then, just like their planes, it took off.

Organizers at the Shelby County Airport began to offer prizes like free gas and oil changes and now some planeloads are planning to stay at the beach all weekend.
Folks at the airport in Gulf Shores are so excited about it, they offered gas discounts and free food but Barnes was quick to put them straight. "We told them we're coming, we want no discount. We'll cook hamburgers. No sir, nothing from ya'll . We're coming to support you," says Barnes.

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