Pilot from Franklin County goes overseas to help Ukrainian refugees

John Bone of Apalachicola is the only American out of about 270 pilots from around the world who’ve volunteered to assist the Ukrainian Air Rescue team.
Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As the war in Ukraine moves into its seventh month, a pilot from Franklin County is taking to the skies to help.

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

Bone is the only American out of about 270 pilots from around the world who’ve volunteered to assist Ukrainians through the air rescue team. The private group flies in medicine and other supplies on the way in, and on the way out, they bring refugees to safety.

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

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

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

The 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 are landing, the passengers have to be there while we unload and have to be brought to the plane and loaded to the plane and flown back to a destination in Germany,” A fellow pilot and the co-founder of Ukraine Air Rescue, Stefan Sahling, said.

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

“It’s stories about drunk Russians sitting in the tank drinking and just picking up a rifle and start shooting people,” Bone said.

Bone wants to share with people back at home just how gruesome things really are.

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

Bone departs for Bonn, Germany, Friday to continue relief efforts. You can learn more about Ukraine Air Rescue on its website.

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