Student pilot makes quick trip to Fla. to deliver supplies to soldiers

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Middle Tennesseans are stepping up to the plate and helping residents of Florida who are expected to get pounded by Hurricane Irma.

Volunteers from all over the state are en route or on standby to go to Florida. A student pilot took to the air to help out fellow military members.PHOTOS: Hurricane Irma

He was determined and was willing to pay to rent a plane to get the supplies to them; that’s when others pitched in to help.

Army helicopter pilot and Murfreesboro Aviation Flight student Tim Mathisen and flight instructor Tanner Quigley took to the sky Friday morning heading to Jacksonville, Florida.

The plane is loaded with 600 sandbags, bottle water and baby wipes.MORE: Complete coverage of Hurricane Irma

Mathisen is from Jacksonville and is currently going through the Wounded Warrior College Program.

His friends, Navy pilot Nathan Lewis, his wife and baby also live in that area, and are in need of help.

“The soldier that’s down in Jacksonville is on the Wounded Warrior Program and myself, I’m a disabled American Veteran from the United States Army and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help a fellow soldier,” Murfreesboro Aviation owner Jim Gardner said.

Mathisen knew he had to find a way to get supplies to them, so he turned to Gardner, his instructor.

“He called me and asked me if he could rent my airplane, I said no you can’t rent it, but you can borrow it so he could go down and help his fellow soldiers out,” Gardner said.

The outer core of Hurricane Irma is already making its presence known and the small plane had to battle high winds once it flew into Florida.

“Getting in was actually tough, they are right now in tropical storm winds landing in Jacksonville,” Gardner said.

So it was a quick stop, unloading the plane and then flying back to Murfreesboro.

As Hurricane Irma approaches planes, especially smaller ones, are having a difficult time flying into and out of Florida, that’s why aviation officials encourage anyone needing to fly out do it now, or get stuck there.

“I gave them a one hour period to land and get back out of there before the winds became too difficult,” Gardner said.

Murfreesboro Aviation is also storing a Department of Interior Kodak plane from Cedar Key Florida.

If the storm is as devastating as expected, planes like these could be severely damaged.

“Where he parks it is on the water, it has floats on it, it wouldn’t be good,” Gardner said.

The crew gassed up in Georgia concerned that there may not be any fuel once they arrived in Jacksonville.

The supplies will be split between two military families in Florida.

Mathisen and Quigley are flying back to Murfreesboro and expected to arrive later Friday.

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