NATO’s first flood relief flight for Pakistan
By Capt Wilko ter Horst
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On Sunday morning, on 22 August the first NATO humanitarian relief flight for Pakistan departed at NATO airbase Geilenkirchen in Germany. The flight was conducted by the NATO AEW&CF Trainer Cargo Airlift squadron (TCA).
Due to the magnitude of the disaster in Pakistan, the Alliance decided earlier this month to contribute to the relief efforts at Pakistan’s request. Following that request, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) stated that NATO should respond as quickly as operationally possible to the Pakistani request for support. Therefore the TCA at Geilenkirchen was tasked for this first humanitarian relief flight.
The goods for Pakistan, which were donated by the Republic of Slovakia, arrived on Saturday morning by truck at Geilenkirchen and were loaded in the TCA, Boeing 707-302C that was specially prepared to carry 9 pallets for the humanitarian flight. The pallets were loaded with power generators, water pumps, blankets and beds.
After arriving in the heat and humidity of Pakistan the whole crew received a warm welcome by the Commander of the military site at Islamabad National Airport, military officials and the NATO technical civil-military team (deployed on authorization by NAC to coordinate local arrangements) who had arrived a few days earlier. The different media, mostly from Pakistan National Television, were anxious to interview the Commander of the TCA Lt.Col. Massimiliano Macioce and the pilot in Command Maj. Marcus Glatt-Kallenberg.
After the first interviews the crew started to offload the pallets. They were handed over to the Pakistani Government. Within two and a half hours the crew started the six hour flight back to Konya, Turkey.
The TCA aircraft and her crew arrived safely back at Geilenkirchen on Monday, 23 August early in the evening. Tired, but proud that the crew could assist in Pakistan’s relief.
At this very moment 16.8 million people are directly affected by the floods and at least 8 million people are in desperate need of emergency assistance. Almost one third of Pakistan is flooded. This catastrophe is of unknown magnitude and many more people may die due to lack of medicines, food and clean water.