Yeah, I know it has been more than a year since I promised this video, but here it is finally. While I am by no means a professional video maker, there is some pretty awesome footage in there.
Operation Christmas Drop 2015 was the 64th annual edition of this humanitarian operation, making it the longest running humanitarian aid mission in DOD history. Over a seven-day period we dropped to 56 islands covering more than 2 million square miles of mostly water. To give you some perspective, that is an area larger than the continental United States.
This was the first year that the US Air Force was joined by the Royal Australian Air Force and Japanese Air Self Defense Force, and it was a tremendous success. All three nations gained valuable knowledge and experience from this amazing operation.
I have done some amazing things over the past year, but I honestly don’t know that I could ever have more fun flying than I did for this week. Cruising out at altitude for hours and then descending into the middle of the Pacific Ocean and picking out an island that is less than a square mile in area is incredibly fulfilling.
As you level off over the islands you see the bluest blue waters surrounding stunningly green palm trees with small groups of people waving and excited to see you. It is hard to imagine a more remote location and that makes the airdrops that much more challenging.
Normally we airdrop on surveyed drop zones with ground controllers that increase our situational awareness by giving us winds and ensuring the drop zone is secure. In this case we have to estimate the winds ourselves, and make multiple passes to ensure that we drop in a safe location free of people and structures.
While this can be extremely challenging, it is also incredibly rewarding to see all of the countless hours of training we do pay off as we deliver Christmas to people who wouldn’t receive it in any other way.
It is a little weird to celebrate Christmas in the toasty region of Guam and the South Pacific, but I also can’t think of a much more rewarding and fulfilling way to enjoy the season.
While I am no professional video maker, I hope you enjoy the footage, and I would love to hear any comments you may have to share.