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A happy team

  • Release Date:2015-04-17
  • Source:NASC

Confucius once said: “a true man loves the mountains and a wise man loves the sea.” The mountains of Taiwan have many faces and they change from season to season. That is why so many hikers trekking into these mountains for the beauty and some of them are looking to conquer these mountains.
Spring comes in March and April where it is still somewhat chilly. On Apr 10 in the morning, Captin Juan of Squadron 1, 3rd Wing of National Airborne Service Corps (stationed in Tainan) just finished his daily briefing with his crew and the crew members were preparing for the day when the telephone started to ring and a fax was coming in. It was the duty officer at the Corps’s HQs and the message read: “a group of 7 hikers went into the mountains from Xiangyang, Taitung and were supposed to come out on the 12th from Dongpu, Nantou. One of the hikers seemed to sprain his ankle (possibly broken) at the night of Apr 9 and is now immobilized with only a day of ration. He is now as the Tafengu cabin waiting for help.” It was sunny at Tainan Airport. The crew of B-234, numbered 603, checked that the cabin is located at Taoyuan, Kaohsiung at the altitude of 2,605m above sea level. Skillfully Instructor Chiu, Hsiang-Cheng, who has been a crew chief for years, prepared rescue equipment. However, the clouds were closing as the helicopter arrived in the mountains. The pilot reported to the tower and climbed up to 9,000 feet. As the helicopter arrived at the target area, the dense clouds prevented the crew from locating the cabin. Having no choice, the pilot took the bird down to a lower altitude. At this moment, violent turbulences and storm cells made it very difficult to keep the helicopter steady. The pilot decided to fly sideways and approached the cabin slowly while managing to stabilize the helicopter. There was a water pool and a gorge next to the cabin which was surrounded by tall trees that prevented hoisting. Therefore, the crew decided to land the helicopter and pick up the injured hiker with stretcher.
Mr. Chiu was selected by the Corps as a rescue worker of the year in 2007 and again in 2010 by both the Corps and National Rescue Command Center. He said the crew and he discuss every mission they went together in order to prevent making the same mistakes again. Most of the mountain search and rescue missions in Taiwan were performed with Chinook, which is challenge for the crew both physically and psychologically. He remembered the search and rescue mission on Feb 27 in Bilu Mountains at Renai, Nantou. That was a very cold day and the cabin was not air conditioned. It was chilling to the bones literally as they arrived at the target area. They searched until the sun started to set and had to rely on radar guidance and radio to stay in touch with the tower, so that they were able to return to the airport safely. Humbly Mr. Chiu said that a job well done is not just the result of the crew’s hard work. There are many who contribute their efforts selflessly behind all this heroic glamour. Whenever there is a need, we will reach out our helping hand. We are lucky to have a career of serving people. What a “happy team” we have!