January 01, 2013
It was bright and warm as we crossed the Signature ramp at Orlando International and boarded the Falcon 900. It had been a good NBAA convention. And now to home.
The invitation to ride aboard Safe Flight Instrument's aircraft was especially welcome. The JetBlue flight scheduled to take my vacationing bride north days earlier had been cancelled and all subsequent flights were overbooked. So, the choices were beginning to look like Hertz or Avis until CEO/Pilot Randy Greene called to say there were seats for both of us.
As the Falcon neared New York, all eyes peered outside for signs of the devastation we'd witnessed on cable news while away. Hurricane Sandy had upended much of the region while we were away and now we were about to bear witness first hand.
What was not apparent at 30,000 ft. became so when we stepped off the plane at Westchester County Airport. The Landmark FBO was dark, its doors blocked open and fat black cables stretched from within to generators on the ramp. We returned home to a house without power, but otherwise in good order. We were very lucky. Some homes in town had been crushed by huge falling trees. As it happened, we had our power restored within 24 hr. For some on the coasts of Long Island, Staten Island and New Jersey, the restoration will never come.
Several weeks later, in speaking with Greene, I learned that while Safe Flight's plant adjacent to HPN suffered no direct damage, it was totally without power and thus unable to function for two weeks. I was shocked.
Greene recounted his frustration in being told by Con Ed, the power company, that electricity would be restored soon, or the next day, then the day after that, but nothing happened. And then when he learned electrification prioritization was a political decision, he called his lawyers and despite their objections directed them to sue Con Ed. Now! Subsequently, probing questions by a judge at an emergency hearing seemed to unnerve the power company lawyers, because there were suddenly teams of emergency power crews all over Safe Flight's building, and the lights, computer screens, drills and coffee makers were back on within hours.
A selfish action by Greene? Hardly. He explained that without power, his 150 employees could not produce any of the electronic products essential to many new aircraft and, “The OEMs can't deliver airplanes with holes in the panel where our equipment should be.” An Atlantic hurricane threatened to add to Wichita's woes.
But by acting decisively, independently and then getting his troops to work late into the night and over the weekends, Greene plugged those holes without any schedule disruptions.