Black Hawks in our region
ANYONE in Lismore on Wednesday just after sunset might have wondered what the two bright lights were sweeping into town from the west.
Those with a view would have seen two Australian Army Black Hawk helicopters descend above Oakes Oval before setting down at Lismore Airport where they are based for two days.
Commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Tim Witenden and 19 fellow crew members are in town to support authorities in flood relief operations across the Northern Rivers.
The contingent includes four pilots, four crewmen and 11 support staff.
"We're here basically at the moment to provide both day and night search and rescue capabilities, recovery capability or general tasking as required in support of emergency services," Lt Col Witenden said yesterday.
"We've had a couple of general tasks today, to confirm a kayak that was up at Tyalgum and also to access damage, debris and inundation from around that vicinity right through to the mouth of the Tweed River.
"We're basically 'force-assigned' here for 48 hours in support of flood relief. The SES coordinates everything so we have a liaison officer with them and they'll drive the tasking from there and away we go."
The helicopters and crew are usually based at the Australian Army Aviation Training Centre in Oakey, Queensland and were dispatched to the region following a request from NSW authorities, through Emergency Management Australia.
Acting Deputy Commander Joint Operation, Commodore Michael Noonan, said the two helicopters and crews would provide much-needed support to local agencies dealing with the flooding.
"The Black Hawks are equipped with winching systems and have been fitted with long-range fuel tanks for increased tasking endurance," Commodore Noonan said.
"If required, the crew also have their full suite of night vision equipment to allow operations into the evening."
The Black Hawk crews are based in Lismore, but operating across the region.