Scenic views and friendly locals are not the only things that make Lord Howe Island special.
CAPTION: The view of Lord Howe Island from the back of an Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft. Story and photo by Flying Officer Lily Lancaster.
The small island provides a unique opportunity for Royal Australian Air Force training flights into remote locations for humanitarian and disaster response (HADR).
Recently, No. 35 Squadron’s C-27J Spartan completed its first landing and take-off at Lord Howe Island.
Executive Officer at No. 35 Squadron, Squadron Leader Justin Della Bosca, said he was excited to see the employment of the C-27J Spartan capability to Lord Howe Island.
“HADR is one of RAAF’s core roles. Whether in response to bushfires or floods, the C-27J Spartan crew must ensure we have access to the most remote destinations,” Squadron Leader Della Bosca said.
“Lord Howe Island is a short, low-strength airfield that provides challenges typical of island destinations in the Pacific.”
Lord Howe Island was initially serviced by flying boats, until Army engineers from the 1st Field Regiment built an emergency airstrip in 1974.
No. 36 and No. 37 Squadrons have both conducted numerous operations in support of the Lord Howe Island community over the years, including aero-medical evacuations.
Most notably, RAAF supported the response following the grounding of HMS Nottingham in 2002.
The C-27J Spartan was greeted with a warm welcome by locals, who waved and enjoyed seeing a visitor, a rarity these days due to COVID-19 restrictions on air traffic to the island.
These restrictions meant the crew practised a landing and take-off but did not disembark the aircraft.
“We hope in the future we will be able to interact with the community and say G’day to the locals,” Squadron Leader Della Bosca said.
“Until health guidance allows, we will continue to follow all state restrictions to keep Australia and the Lord Howe community safe.”
The flight was a success and proved the capability of the C-27J Spartan at Lord Howe Island.
No. 35 Squadron will return more frequently in the coming months to ensure their crews are prepared and ready for the high-risk weather season.