23 May 2012
Three Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) UH-1H Iroquois helicopters and crew from No 3 Squadron, Ohakea have arrived in Samoa for Exercise Tropic Astra, the annual tropical flying exercise.
Detachment Commander, Wing Commander Shaun Clark, says with so much of the RNZAF’s humanitarian aid and disaster relief work carried out in the Pacific Islands, personnel must train in the tropics where the humid air decreases a helicopter’s performance.
The New Zealand High Commission has worked with the Samoan Government and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to provide tasks for the RNZAF detachment that will benefit communities in Samoa as well as provide training opportunities.
WGCDR Clark says the New Zealand contingent will be carrying out a wide range of activities before the exercise ends on 2 June.
"We’ve been presented with a range of challenging tasks ideal for developing our tropical flying skills, ranging from ferrying a water tank to Na’mua Island, to participating in disaster relief exercises."
The RNZAF’s last real disaster relief mission in Samoa was in response to the devastating 2009 tsunami, when two Iroquois helicopters carried supplies and personnel to remote areas as part of the wider NZ Defence Force effort.
The contingent will also take part in Samoa’s independence celebrations on 1 June, with a flyover scheduled as part of the morning parade.
For further information, contact Senior Communications Advisor, Nicole Munro, Defence Communications Group, 04 529 6033.