Kiwi 'Copters In Timor Reach 500 Flying Hours
Kiwi Helicopters In Timor-Leste Reach 500 Flying Hours
16 November 2007
Since arrival in April this year, two Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Iroquois helicopters have clocked up just over 500 flying hours in support of operations in Timor-Leste.
The significant milestone was achieved during a two-ship flight inserting Australian troops to remote outposts at the beginning of November.
The Ohakea-based 3 Squadron operate the two helicopters and have 31 personnel based in Dili alongside Australian and Civilian helicopters, forming the Timor-Leste Aviation Group (TLAG). RNZAF Iroquois were initially deployed to Timor-Leste in 1999, before their withdrawal in 2002. They were redeployed in April 2007, and the crew work on three month rotations.
Daily tasks for the Kiwis can vary, and often include Aero-medical Evacuation (AME), insertion of supplies and troops or VIP transport. Already, fourteen AME flights have been conducted and 1924 passengers have been carried since April.
The varied tasks combined with the unfamiliar tropical environment makes flying very interesting, even though this is the second tour of duty for many of the crew.
Detachment Commander Squadron Leader Nick Cree says that the past experience has stood the crew in good stead.
"The facilities have changed a lot over the past few years, but the flying and the tasking remains very similar. Past experience combined with good pre-deployment training meant it was very easy for us to hit the ground running and get straight to work."
The RNZAF helicopter detachment has a mandate to remain in Timor-Leste until at least April 2008.