Royal Air Force C130 Hercules, call-sign “Pag-asa 47” or “there is still hope” in Filipino, has delivered 200 tonnes of essential humanitarian aid across the Philippines in just 10 days.
Since the small team of Hercules aircrew and support staff arrived from RAF Brize Norton on 19 November, they have worked with gritty dedication to load and fly as much relief aid as possible from the logistics hub at Cebu Airport to the towns and islands devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. The loading and unloading of all aid is overseen by experts from 1 Air Movements Wing (1AMW), but with only 37 members in the whole team, it has been all hands to the pump to get the job done.
“My team has been absolutely outstanding during our time in the Philippines,” said Squadron Leader Calvin Bailey, the Hercules Detachment Commander “when we arrived we saw Filipinos who had lost everything and everyone just wanted to make sure the aid is delivered as quickly as possible. The medical staff, the RAF Police and RAF Regiment have all been involved in loading the aircraft.”
The RAF team is working closely with DfID staffs, who have prioritized the delivery of aid requested by the many relief agencies working in affected areas. In addition to aid, the UK Hercules has flown 478 passengers, taking aid workers to where they can be of most use and relocating Filipinos affected by the typhoon at the request of the Philippines Government.
“It has been fantastic to work with the disaster relief agencies and Air Force colleagues from 11 other nations. Even though we all do things differently, we have a common desire to make full use of every aircraft leaving Cebu to help those Filipinos still in need” said Flight Lieutenant Timothy Twaite, Officer Commanding 1 Air Movements Wing detachment.
Each Hercules flight can deliver up to 10 tonnes of aid and the team has regularly been flying 3 and sometimes 4 aid missions a day. This intensive flying programme means an even longer working day in very hot and humid conditions for the movements team, who arrive hours before the first morning flight to load the aid and stay late to ready the next morning’s pallets. “These long hours are really needed in this stricken country said Senior Aircraftsman Greg Wade (22).
“When we arrived it was pretty chaotic at some of the airfields with people trying to get out of the badly damaged areas and agencies trying to get aid in. But we’ve seen real progress and it’s been brilliant to be at the sharp end of getting that aid to the people who need it most.”
A lack of forklifts at some locations and complex types of aid packages means the aircraft load often has to be ‘hand-balled’ or manually handled onto and off the aircraft. Fortunately, there is no shortage of Filipino volunteers and police, who are willing to lend a hand.
Sergeant Rachel Gilding said: “This is the most rewarding job I’ve done in 17 years in the Royal Air Force. Even though parts of these islands have been decimated by the typhoon, the volunteers always come to help with a smile and thank us for being here. It is really uplifting.”
A Royal Air Force C130 transport aircraft at Ormoc airport in the Philippines, delivering food and wate as part of the UK’s humanitarian assistance to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013
Source / Author: RAF