Henry, a two-year-old ice-cool Sea World polar bear, today met with the RAAF pilots and crew who will welcome him as a passenger tomorrow.
Henry will fly from the Gold Coast to Sydney in a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules tomorrow before catching another flight to Canada.
Henry’s relocation to the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in Ontario, Canada, is part of conservation efforts to support polar bear breeding following the decline of the wild population.
Hercules pilot Flight Lieutenant Conan Brett said that was a fantastic opportunity to be able to combine routine flying operations with such a special event.
“It is a great honour for the RAAF to be able to assist Henry and contribute to the polar bear breeding program,” said Flight Lieutenant Brett.
“Usually we transport military cargo or Defence personnel, so tomorrow will be a very special opportunity to put our training to a unique use.
“I’ve flown thousands of passengers, but Henry will certainly be the most interesting passenger I have ever flown.”
As a logistics officer, Flying Officer Sarah Fraser’s duty is to ensure that all passengers and cargo are loaded onto the aircraft safely.
“We have some very special cargo indeed! Ensuring Henry’s safety on the flight will be a new experience and I am very excited,” Flying Officer Fraser said
“It can get quite cold at an altitude of 30,000 feet, so I’m sure Henry will feel right at home on the Hercules.”
Home-based at RAAF Base Richmond, the C-130J Hercules is able to carry up to 20 tonnes of cargo or more than 128 passengers, and is capable of dropping supplies and parachuting personnel – though the RAAF is unlikely to employ this delivery method for Henry.