x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Relief team worked around the clock in extreme heat

A spirit of unity and strong organisation were the two key factors in the UAE relief team's efforts in Pakistan, according to the mission's operations supervisor.

A spirit of unity and strong organisation were the two key factors in the UAE relief team's efforts in Pakistan, according to the mission's operations supervisor.

"The work was continuous, almost 24 hours a day," said the officer, who asked to be identified only as Suhail.

The team often returned from operations just after sunset, before the loadmasters and technicians got to work on the planes until dawn, preparing them for the next day. The loaded planes took off at 7am, delivering aid and rescuing civilians.

The loads were extraordinary, but the Chinook helicopters have good endurance at high temperature and humidity while carrying the maximum load of relief material, team members said.

The Chinooks are among the world's most powerful transport helicopters.

"In Pakistan, there was complete destruction, there was no place to land because of the water, sometimes we had to throw the food down from the plane," the team's chief pilot said.

Logistical difficulties included landing and taking off with maximum loads, and servicing the planes in difficult working conditions.

That meant up to 14 hours of work a day for the Emirati crew, a warrant officer who is the maintenance supervisor said.

"We were working outside, there were no hangars, directly under the sun," he said.

Still, the honourable cause provided the crew some relief.

"Doing a humanitarian mission, it makes it easier for you," one crewman said.

 

kshaheen@thenational.ae