Air Force C-17 drops off supplies in Haiti - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Air Force C-17 drops off supplies in Haiti

By Hatzel Vela  bio | email | Twitter

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It was the first of what could be several missions to Haiti. A Charleston-based C-17 took off early Thursday evening and was on its way to McGuire Air Force base in New Jersey.

Aside from a few journalists and the crew, the plane was loaded down with supplies like heavy equipment used to clear debris. It is also carrying supplies like water, medical supplies and food.

"There is no air traffic control, there is no radar, so the crews have to fly self-contained approaches," said Air Force Deputy Commander Lt. Colonel Russ Catanach.

The crew is thankful at least the Haitian air field wasn't destroyed during the quake.

There is plenty of runway, but facilities are not fully functional so the team will use ground positioning systems and other onboard technologies to guide them.

"We have the traffic collision avoidance system on the airplane. Crews are trained to use that, which alerts then to all traffic in the area," Catanach said.

On the ground, the Department of Defense has crews also controlling air traffic.

"The crews are trained to do this so it's really a pretty routine operation for our crews to fly into a fields that's uncontrolled," he said.

Charleston's Air Force also helped with relief after a quake devastated Pakistan.

Crews were part of more than 270 missions and delivered $15 million pounds of cargo under conditions similar to Haiti.

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