A Chinook from RAF Odiham has demonstrated its heavy-lift capability to the Isle of Wight’s emergency services.
The distinctively dual-rotor helicopter is capable of lifting more than 10 tonnes, and made light work of the 3.3 tonne high-pressure water pump that the joint RAF and Army team had slung underneath as part of Exercise Resilient Vectis.
Planned by the Isle of Wight’s Emergency Management Team, the exercise was designed to familiarise the Fire & Rescue Service, HM Coastguard, the Environment Agency and Ambulance staff with the rules and procedures necessary when working in and around military helicopters.
Such exercises are essential to keep skills and drills the best they can be, and this was no exception. Observing today I witnessed a solid example of all agencies working cohesively and seamlessly; coming together to achieve the goal.
Local Councillor and Isle of Wight Armed Forces Champion
The RAF aircrew coordinated with a joint RAF/Army team on the ground who specialise in securing air cargo for helicopters in pressurised environments. The aviators and soldiers are members of the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron, based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, and when hitching up the water pump had to deal with deafening noise, powerful helicopter downwash and the pressure of ensuring a safe and successful lift.
Joint Helicopter Command maintains a heavy lift capability helicopter on short notice to deploy anywhere within the UK, often referred to as the emergency stand-by Chinook. Its purpose is to be deployable 24/7 in case of severe weather, flood, fire or the need to evacuate people in difficult locations. Its most recent high-profile outing was a complete reverse of the RAF’s most famous raid when it was called upon to become a ‘dam builder’ and shore up the damaged Toddbrook Reservoir Dam in Derbyshire with 400 tonnes of aggregate.