Two of the L382 Hercules crewmembers in this 2009 photo are among the First Air crews delivering supplies to Haiti earthquake victims: Capt. Dan Jones (right) and Flight Engineer Jeremy Studney (center).

First Air Crews Assist Haiti Relief Efforts

January 15, 2010 - ALPA crews from the Canadian carrier First Air are among the many volunteers from around the world who are rushing to assist earthquake victims in Haiti.

The airline is sending both of its Lockheed L382 Hercules – a civilian version of the military C-130 cargo plane – to the Dominican Republic to deliver relief supplies. FAB’s pair of L382s are the only civilian C130s in Canada.

First Air pilots and flight engineers from ALPA Council 240 typically fly the Hercs from their base in Yellowknife, NWT, supporting scientific researchers and petroleum and mining companies that work above the Arctic Circle. For the Haiti mission, the U.S. Agency for International Development chartered the Hercs to fly search and rescue supplies and a water purification system from the Washington, DC, area to Santo Domingo, where it is being trucked to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the epicenter of the disaster.

The two freighters, which can carry up to 45,000 pounds of cargo from short, rugged runways and operate with minimal ground support, left Yellowknife Thursday to begin the relief flights. FAB MEC Chairman Jamie Biggs says the two Herc crews are now resting in Santo Domingo after a 17-hour duty day, with a relief crew on its way to support future operations.

First Air’s largest freighter, a B-767-200 that entered the FAB fleet last year, will also be pressed into service this weekend to support earthquake relief efforts. The 767 pilots are members of ALPA Council 241, based in Ottawa.

Biggs says relief missions are a regular part of FAB’s operations. The Hercules have flown many famine relief flights to Africa for the United Nations and international relief organizations, and several years ago FAB 727s flew search dog teams from the U.S. to Turkey to assist earthquake victims there.