New Zealand Defence Force aircraft have taken part in two major search and rescue operations this week rescuing two stranded tourists and helping in the search for three missing fishermen.
The missions mean the Royal New Zealand Air Force is rapidly closing in on nearly 200 hours of search and rescue flying hours in a little over 12 months, with the majority of those hours being flown by crews from 5 Squadron at Whenuapai in P-3K2 Orions (175 hours), and more than 20 hours flown by 3 Squadron using the NH90 helicopters based at Ohakea.
The conditions prevented a civilian rescue helicopter from flying.
On Wednesday and Thursday an Orion flew for 22 hours – including more than seven hours searching in the hunt for three missing fishermen near Tarawa, in the central Pacific island republic of Kiribati. The search for the fishermen’s small wooden boat covered more than 34,000 nautical miles.
Air Component Commander Air Commodore Tony Davies said the Air Force’s search and rescue capability delivered a vital public service both in New Zealand and overseas.
“This is the latest demonstration of how our capabilities help the community here and in the South Pacific in what are often lifesaving situations,” he said.