For Captain Ardis S.T. Tang, a senior pilot for special operation from Hong Kong, the quake-relief flights meant more than a humanitarian mission, but a touching experience.
"I was moved most during this mission," he said," people across the country gather in Sichuan for one purpose(quake-relief), and they are working in an all-out way," said the aviator, who have flied safe for over 6,600 hours.
Only yards away, on the ground of the airport of Guanghan city, lies a "Super Puma".
Only hours before, the helicopter had airlifted two miners left stranded for 19 days high in the mountains, another glorious touch that could set the chopper on a competitive edge from the rest.
A crew of five, all from Hong Kong, were on board the aircraft on Sunday, to help and witness the helicopter saving Mi Chengfu and Liu Hongkun, two miners aged 51 and 45 respectively, to land safe in Guanghan, 25 kilometers north of the provincial capital Chengdu.
"Delicate operations were required to save the injured, who were trapped in the mountains about 2000 meters above sea level." the captain said.
The mountainous terrain in the quake-hit area made the flight rather difficult, a turnaround would not come by easily, he said.
The altitude, low air density and whirlwinds made the "Super Puma" hard to control and the crew had to drive it with utmost care, he added.
The captain said he felt his rescue mission was meaningful.
"Every time an injured or trapped person is on board, he would reward us with a grateful nod or smile, a simple gesture means a whole lot to us," he said.
A crew of eight of the Government Flying Service(GFS), a department under the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, arrived in the quake-hit southwest Sichuan following the magnitude 8 earthquake on May 12.
From May 19 to June 1, the team had accepted 20 missions and airlifted 95 quake victims from hilly areas in Deyang city, Shifang city, Mianzhu city and Yuli township of Beichuan county, places hit hardest by the tremor.
The crew were also assigned to send supplies for the quake-affected people and quake-relief soldiers.
"This is our first time to be part of a quake-relief mission. The flying experience we had in Hong Kong was different compared with this one, as the large-scale landslides have triggered the change of geological locations." he said.
"We have to get familiar with the terrain and constantly on alert", he noted, adding that the quake-relief mission will make the team more experienced in future rescue work.
Tang praised the headquarters of the flight missions, saying they coordinated 33 helicopters from 9 aviation units in an orderly manner.
"They were so considerate as they even afforded us flight reference materials." he said.
The captains from Hong Kong all agreed that the team spirit, both from GFS and other aviation companies, and selfless sharing of flying experiences made their tasks easier to handle.
For the chief commander of the helicopter relief teams Lu Erxue, GFS left him the impression of being professional and devoted.
"They have such an impressive way of work," he said, " they are always ready to carry out missions and have given full advantage of their advanced equipment for rescue efforts."
(Xinhua News Agency June 3, 2008)