Operation BBQ Relief flies meals to Dorian-ravaged Bahamas aboard restored WWII plane

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Volunteers from a nonprofit organization are delivering thousands of meals daily to the Bahamas as it rebuilds from Hurricane Dorian’s destruction, and they are making the flights on a restored World War II airplane.

The aircraft carried thousands of meals, including rice, pulled pork and bread as part of the special mission carried out by the nonprofit Operation BBQ Relief.

“It’s our little way of being able to help the world and make it a better place,” said Stan Hayes, CEO of Operation BBQ Relief.

The mission took volunteers to the island nation aboard Miss Montana, a restored World War II-era plane.

“It makes the last year and a half that we sacrificed getting this airplane flying, it definitely serves a purpose,” said Eric Komberec, president of the Museum of Mountain Flying.

Thursday’s flight meant a lot to the volunteers who traveled to Grand Bahama International Airport.

“We just hope that it does a little bit to help the people of the island,” said Hayes.

A 7News crew tagged along on Thursday’s trip.

Once they landed in Freeport, everyone knew exactly what to do.

Operation BBQ Relief tries to make two flights a day from Fort Lauderdale aboard Miss Montana, which displays the American and Bahamian flags. The organization plans to make these trips for a total of 30 days.

“We’ve never seen so much air traffic through here,” said Bahamas resident Kimberly Klonaris.

Help hasn’t stopped arriving ever since Dorian destroyed many communities in the Bahamas.

Klonaris, who owns of a freight company, said the Category 5 storm filled the business with six feet of saltwater. Despite having to rebuild, they donated a truck to load the food for families in need.

“We can’t sit at home and do nothing, so we just want to be out here helping as much as we can,” said Klonaris.

Operation BBQ Relief responds to communities immediately after disaster hits. Thursday’s trip, however, had special significance.

“It’s our three-millionth meal since 2011, when we started down in Joplin, Missouri, after that tornado hit that community,” said Hayes.

It was a historic trip on a historic airplane.

“This airplane was never able to serve overseas during World War II,” said Komberec.

But it did make it to the Bahamas for a memorable mission.

“We thought, what better way than to take this airplane that we put our blood, sweat and tears in come down here to Florida and the Bahamas and offer to help?” said Komberec.

Then it was back to Fort Lauderdale to do it all over again.

The Museum of Mountain Flying owns Miss Montana. They donated the aircraft to Operation BBQ Relief during the entire length of this mission.

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