Similar equipment and procedures made integrating into Australian air-load teams easy for a Royal New Zealand Air Force team to support Bushfire Assist.
CAPTION: Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force air-movements personnel work together to palletise equipment at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, in support of Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20. Photo by Corporal Jessica de Rouw. Story by Flying Officer Evita Ryan.
RELATED STORIES: Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20
That’s why Royal New Zealand Air Force Flight Lieutenant Emily Hall and her team of three leading aircraftsmen were able to hit the ground running at No. 23 Squadron’s Air Movements Terminal within 24 hours of arriving at RAAF Base Amberley in Ipswich, Queensland.
“We watched the impact of the bushfires and felt powerless” Flight Lieutenant Hall said, speaking on behalf of her Mobile Air Load Team (MALT).
After seeing the devastating Australian bushfires from neighbouring New Zealand, Flight Lieutenant Hall and her team were quick to act when they were given the opportunity to support Operation Bushfire Assist.
“Everyone in my team is always eager to help.” Flight Lieutenant Hall said.
“They were all on leave when I called them, but everyone flew out to Australia the next day.”
Temporarily accommodated at RAAF Base Amberley and working from the base’s Air Movement’s Terminal, Flight Lieutenant Hall and her team felt right at home.
“The procedures are the same, the culture’s the same, even the banter’s the same – it’s like being at home,” Flight Lieutenant Hall said.
“Only this time, we can do our job, do what we’re good at whilst actually having a positive impact on Operation Bushfire Assist.”
A major part of the efficient and effective movement of personnel and materiel to support Air Force’s activities, operations and exercises, Aircraft Load Teams working from Amberley have been running two shifts a day and working eight to 10 hours per shift.
As the Officer in Charge of No. 23 Squadron’s Air Movements Section, Flying Officer Megan Ryan witnessed the NZ MALT integrate seamlessly with the squadron’s Air Load Teams from day one.
“It is excellent having the NZ MALT working here within our Air Movements Section,” Flying Officer Megan Ryan said.
“It’s great to see how seamlessly our Australian and New Zealand teams work together as coalition allies. We are very grateful for New Zealand’s support and assistance throughout this time.”
While NZ MALT teams regularly train, deploy and undertake exercises with their Australian counterparts all over the world, they don’t often have the opportunity to work from Australian Air Force bases.
“We got really excited when we arrived, Amberley is huge,” Flight Lieutenant Hall said.
“The transit accommodation is new and shiny, the planes are bigger, the teams are bigger and the loads are bigger. Everything is that next level up and there’s more concurrent activity here. It’s exciting seeing so much going on and everyone has been super accommodating.”
While admitting this is an opportunity for her team to upskill, Flight Lieutenant Hall said the real reward was the opportunity to help out in this time of need.
“All our training, all the courses and all the exercises are worth it because we’re actually able to help people in need,” she said.
“Even though we’re not on the front line, it’s still tangible the satisfaction we’re getting because we’re seeing all the freight moving to areas in need.
“It definitely makes you proud to be a Kiwi.”