Moving loads in PNG

Perth local Aircraftman Finlay Austin deployed on the latest rotation of the Defence Pacific Air Program to Papua New Guinea as part of the mobile air load team.

CAPTIONAircraftman Finlay Austin, from 27 Squadron, on a C-27J Spartan aircraft in Papua New Guinea during the Defence Pacific Air Program. Story by Flight Lieutenant Claire Campbell. Photo by Corporal Samuel Miller.

Currently posted to 25 Squadron, Aircraftman Austin worked alongside personnel from 35 Squadron on the C-27J Spartan providing airlift support to PNG.

His first international trip with the RAAF since joining in February last year, Aircraftman Austin said working closely with the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) has been a highlight.

“Our engagement with the PNGDF and working with the air movements team has been great exposure to how other militaries work,” he said.

“When an aircraft comes in, the PNGDF movements team will help us load it. They’ll either observe or they’ll be hands on – they’re very interested in how we do our jobs.”

Playing darts together, the Australian personnel from 35 Squadron and PNG personnel bonded over shared interests, comparing notes on how each Defence Force works and learning from each other.

This Defence Pacific Air Program rotation has also assisted the PNGDF and PNG government with provision of emergency relief supplies to local communities impacted by an earthquake in East Sepik.

“Another highlight for me has been helping out the local community with AusAid during the earthquake and the search and rescue mission we conducted as well,” Aircraftman Austin said.

“The whole trip has been very rewarding, the terrain in PNG is quite different; it’s very beautiful. I’ve been able to get a lot of experience here flying on RAAF aircraft.”

The Defence Pacific Air Program is part of an Australian Whole-of-Government effort to increase presence and capacity in the Southwest Pacific, and this rotation will focus on airlift operations in PNG as well as Fiji.

After leaving PNG, Aircraftman Austin and the 35 Squadron crew deployed to Fiji to conduct further movements across the country’s islands, including transporting the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and their equipment.

CAPTIONAircraftman Finlay Austin, from 27 Squadron, stands in front of a forklift and a C-27J Spartan aircraft at Port Moresby airport, Papua New Guinea, during the Defence Pacific Air Program.


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