By: Monica Parise
POHAKULOA, Big Island (HawaiiNewsNow) - The biennial war games known as RIMPAC are scheduled to end Thursday, and one of their final missions was a massive cargo drop over the Big Island.
C-17 Pilot, Captain Michael Recker, led the historic airdrop and aerial-refueling mission, dropping supplies by parachute from his C-17 into the danger zone below. He is part of the 535th Airlift Squadron out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. This first ever simulated airdrop mission provided crucial training for all involved.
"This was a high intensity training event integrating with RIMPAC airspace and players, as well as our currency and proficiency training for air drop missions," said Captain Recker.
This type of training provides US Air Force pilots and loadmasters the opportunity to conduct real-world training for humanitarian and disaster relief missions. It's also a rare chance to practice communications and cooperation among RIMPAC countries and Navy airplanes, bedding down at Hickam Airfield.
"It's risky business considering C-17 pilots fly only about one-thousand feet off the ground in rising terrain. "We stayed a little bit higher as a safety margin. We drop as low as 500 to 550 feet AGL in formation," said Captain Recker.
Squadron Commander, Lt Col Patrick Winstead agreed, saying "This is a huge opportunity to train, not only with our Air Force partners and fighters, but the Canadian F-18s. We've been flying them quite a bit so there's an international flavor there."
An international flair, winding down, as this unique RIMPAC experience comes to a close. The world's largest international maritime exercise involved 25,000 personnel from twenty-two countries. More than forty ships and submarines and 200-plus aircraft are now celebrating a mission accomplished.
This year marks the 23rd exercise in the RIMPAC series that began in 1971.