Florida pilot goes overseas to help Ukrainian refugees

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – As the war in Ukraine enters its seventh month, a pilot from Franklin County, Fla. is flying in to help.

John Bone is a retired airline pilot and flight instructor from Apalachicola. Right now he’s in Europe, partnering with the Ukraine Air Rescue team to help refugees.

Bone is the only American of about 270 pilots around the world to volunteer to help Ukrainians through the Air Rescue Team. The private group airlifts medicine and other supplies in and out, they get the refugees to safety.

“I got on my plane and flew from Apalachicola in five days to Germany, and here I am,” Bone said.

Bone watched the war unfold from his home in Apalachicola and wanted to find a way to help. He knew a Ukrainian living just outside Kyiv.

“I contacted him and said, ‘What can I do?’ You know, at the time, they were just getting started, and there wasn’t really a position for a full-time guide that would justify flying from Florida to Germany, but it did changed,” he said.

Air rescue brings refugees to medical facilities throughout Germany.

“You have to be pretty organized in a supply chain concept because by the time we land the passengers have to be there while we unload, and have to be brought to the plane and loaded onto the plane and brought back to a destination in Germany,” said Stefan Sahling, a fellow pilot and co-founder of Ukraine Air Rescue.

On the flights, passengers share the horrors of war with Bone and the other pilots.

“These are stories of drunk Russians sitting in the tank drinking and grabbing a gun and starting shooting people,” Bone said.

Bone wants to share with the people back home how awful things are.

“We were talking about it the other day. It’s almost like history repeating itself. It’s as if the Nazis were destroying the Jews. That’s what’s happening here,” Bone said.

Bone leaves for Bonn, Germany on Friday to continue relief efforts. You can read more about Ukraine Air Rescue on their website.

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