An RAF pilot is currently flying Merlin helicopters from Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, moving equipment, personnel and supplies to and from the forward operating and patrol bases.
Flight Lieutenant Rob Humphries, from 78 Squadron, who is normally based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, is currently on a ten-week deployment to the British forces’ main base of Camp Bastion in Helmand province.
Flight Lieutenant Humphries, 1419 Flight, 78 Squadron, said:
The job we do in Afghanistan involves moving personnel and equipment around different forward bases in Helmand. We take a lot of food, ammunition, water and other essential equipment the troops need out on the ground.
The most satisfying part of my job out here is taking the troops out of their operating bases when they’re returning home. Seeing their smiles is pretty good.
Flight Lieutenant Humphries works in a close-knit team of four while serving in Afghanistan, including another pilot and two crewmen who deal with the people and equipment they are carrying:
Working in a small crew on the Merlin is really good. You get to know everyone’s idiosyncrasies and it helps you gel together as a really tight team so you know what each other are doing at all times, so it works really well.
His time spent on operations has shown him how life can be in Helmand, but has also meant that he has been exposed to extremes of temperature:
The most frustrating thing about working out in Afghanistan is the heat,” he said. “The incredible temperatures there are in the cockpit and for the rear crewman stood under the exhaust vent during refuelling. It can rise above 60 or 70 degrees [Celsius] which is pretty horrendous in the heat of the day.
While out in Helmand, Flight Lieutenant Humphries has missed the finer things in life, and is looking forward to getting home and enjoying himself. He is also looking forward to seeing his parents and his two brothers:
I do miss a nice ice cold beer. I’m looking forward to a nice steak dinner and going out for a few beers with my mates.