Sunday, February 14, 2010
Flight Lieutenant Chris 'Haz' Hasley , Joint Helicopter Force, Camp Bastion
Flight Lieutenant 'Haz' Hasley in the cockpit of his Chinook
After an in depth planning and briefing process my crew and I walked to our Chinook for the morning assault. We had known about Op MOSHTARAK since our arrival in theatre back in December and as we loaded our troops and engaged the rotors, we were acutely aware of the complexity of the operation we were about to execute.”
With 8 minutes to go to launch I noticed a splattering of oil accumulating on the windscreen. We consulted our ground crew who advised us shut down the aircraft so that they could climb on top for a closer look. After a short interval, which seemed like a lifetime, they told us that there was a leak from one of our rotor blade nods but that the Chinook was safe to fly. With that information we set about restarting the cab as quickly as possible; a process that normally takes 15 minutes. We were airbourne and in formation in less than 5 minutes, overall a minute later than planned.
We struck out at low level under the moonless night towards our objective which was the insurgent held town of Showal. En route to target the ambient light levels were so poor that even our NVGs struggled to provide much more than a dark green nothingness.
On short finals to the target, the formation of Chinooks tightened spacing and pitched noses up hard to decelerate quickly. The back wheels dug into the soft ground of the muddy field and we disgorged our complement of Royal Welsh and ANA troops. Seconds later we were wheels up and racing back to Bastion airfield to pick up our next chalk of soldiers.
In just over 2 hours our packet of 4 RAF Chinooks had delivered approximately 650 soldiers to the heart of the insurgency. An insurgency who after being forewarned of our attack wisely kept their heads down or fled the scene.
At 0610 we stopped the rotors and after a quick debrief headed for bed. We wouldn’t get much sleep as we were taking over the Immediate Response Team helicopter later that day.”