Operation Christmas Drop 19 has wrapped up in Guam, with a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules and crew delivering 23 loads of important supplies to remote Pacific communities.
Held annually since 1952, Operation Christmas Drop is led by the US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and is the world’s longest running humanitarian airdrop activity.
This year saw Hercules crews from PACAF, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand fly 24 missions to the Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau.
Flight Lieutenant Andrew Morgan from the RAAF’s No. 37 Squadron said the RAAF flew three missions as part of a multi-national effort.
“Australian aircraft completed 23 air drops, each one weighing up to 200kg and containing items such as construction materials, fishing nets, rice, soccer balls, and school supplies,” FLTLT Morgan said.
“Some of the missions were up to 8.5 hours in length and covered a return journey of 3,500 kilometres over the west Pacific.
“Our drop zone might be a thin strip of beach or a lagoon in an atoll, so we needed to consider how some of these communities would be able to recover the load.”
FLTLT Morgan said Operation Christmas Drop allows participants to exchange airdrop techniques and methods, while also helping bring Christmas joy to remote communities.
“The atmosphere on the aircraft during these missions was fantastic, with Christmas decorations and the crew wearing Santa hats,” he said.