HAWAII AID EFFORTS
An all-terrain forklift rolled into the cargo bay of a C-17 plane yesterday at Hickam Air Force Base, part of an aid mission to the Philippine village devastated by a mudslide.
Relief on its way from Hawaii
Cargo jet loads at Hickam for relief flight to Philippines
A computer problem in a new C-17 Globemaster cargo jet delayed a relief flight to the Philippine landslide survivors that was scheduled to leave late Sunday night from Hickam Air Force Base.
A C-17 based at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., that was at Hickam on a different mission, was loaded and ready to depart at 10:25 last night.
A local Air Force crew loaded and unloaded Hickam's Spirit of Hawaii - Ke Aloha last night and then loaded the Charleston C-17's 13-foot-high cargo bay with 30,000 pounds of relief supplies provided by the military.
The 15-hour flight includes a 3 1/2-hour stopover at Guam's Andersen Air Base to pick up two forklifts weighing a total of 50,000 pounds. The jet then heads to Macta Island, where the supplies and equipment will be offloaded.
Maj. Paul Wright, Hickam Air Force Base's chief of public affairs, called the problem minor and said the mission control computer, which helps adjust propulsion for an engine, must be replaced and is on order for the Spirit of Hawaii - Ke Aloha.
"The C-17 is one of the most advanced, highly computerized cargo aircraft in the world," he said, which allows it to be crewed by only three people (aircraft commander, co-pilot and loadmaster).
Hickam received the C-17 two weeks ago.
Lt. Col. Chris Davis, right, airlift squadron commander, and ground workers yesterday checked gear aboard a C-17 plane at Hickam Air Force Base bound for the Philippines.
Staff Sgt. David Webster, who is half Filipino and was born at Clark Air Base in the Philippines, helped to load the supplies and is part of the crew going on the relief mission.
"I'm proud to be part of it," he said.
"This mission is extremely important not only for the relief efforts, but for Hickam, because of the strong friendship we have with the Filipino community here in Hawaii," said Air Force spokesman 1st Lt. Craig Savage.
"The uniqueness of this mission is that it's (National) Guard and active duty together," Savage said.
Ten active-duty combat mobility specialists from the 15th Airlift Wing based at Hickam were expected to fly out last night on the C-17 plane. The specialists are trained in rapid loading and unloading of cargo.
The six-man air crew includes three active-duty personnel and three National Guard members.
The 80,000 pounds of cargo include water, meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) tents, cots and two forklifts to help handle the supplies and equipment.
The C-17 will possibly land at Tacloban Civil Airfield in Leyte. Tacloban's runway is just 7,000 feet long, but that poses no problem for the C-17, which is designed to fly heavy cargo and which requires a minimum 3,000-foot runway.
Regardless of which plane is used, "our focus is to get the support to the Philippine government and to those people in need as fast as we can," Savage said.