Quick article on part of the US Military's response to help in Haiti, specifically what the AF did to help get the airport operational again.
AF Restores Order to Haiti Skies
January 15, 2010
Military.com|by Bryant Jordan
Air Force operational support and special tactics Airmen restored security to Haiti’s airport and order to the skies over it Thursday, the day after they flew into the earthquake-devastated country from Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Airmen of the 720th Operations Support Squadron and 23rd Special Tactics Squadron were on the ground by about 8 p.m. Wednesday. As an Air Force Security Forces element established a perimeter guard around the Port-au-Prince airport, the two squadrons began setting up to restore air traffic control capabilities.
"What I can tell you is that my men got on that airplane [at Hurlburt] with radios on their backs and walked off that airplane [in Haiti] ready to start talking to airplanes," Lt. Col Brett J. Nelson, commander of the 23d STS, told media during a blogger's roundtable from the Pentagon on Thursday. "The first priority we had when we got on the ground was to assess the airfield and make sure it was safe for non-military aircraft landing."
That typically takes about a half hour, he said, but may have take a bit longer in this instance because it was nighttime and the area had to be closely inspected.
"But once that was done, we were able to establish airhead operations immediately," he said.
The units also arrived with humanitarian aid and Air Force pararescuemen and equipment for rescue, said Maj. Jason Daniels, director f operations for the 720th OSS.
While Air Force officials were not able to estimate exactly how many planes they processed in their first day of operating the airfield, Nelson said that they had 44 aircraft on the ground at one point.
Nelson denied Thursday afternoon media reports that the airfield had to be shut down because it could no longer handle incoming aircraft.
The Associated Press and other outlets reported that the Federal Aviation Administration halted all civilian flights to Haiti for nearly eight hours as some aircraft circled the airport awaiting permission to land. Nelson said the airfield was never shut down, but that incoming flights were prioritized to get in the most critical and also give ground crews a chance to handle the planes already there.
He said many planes on the ground had to be moved using tow vehicles and tow-bars, but that the airport only has two of each.
Nelson told Military.com that the Air Force would be flying in additional tows and tow-bars.
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