An IAF “Karnaf” (Hercules C-130) aircraft was sent to Macedonia, with Police Aerial Firefighting Unit personnel onboard, to provide assistance with the fires that spread across Macedonia two weeks ago. This was the second time the IAF took part in a firefighting mission this month, with the last time being in Montenegro

Carmel Stern

Two weeks ago, the Israeli Police Aerial Firefighting Unit assisted firefighters in Macedonia in extinguishing a series of fires that spread across the country. Israel provided two airtankers operated by the police, and one “Karnaf” (Hercules C-130) aircraft operated by the IAF, which carried around twenty servicemen and their equipment.

The IAF Provides Assistance in Macedonia Fires

Photography: “Knights of the Yellow Birds” Squadron

“We saw the smoke from up in the sky”
This is the second time Israel has provided support in aerial firefighting this month, with the first one being in Montenegro. “Karnaf” aircraft were sent on this mission, once again serving alongside the Israeli Police’s Aerial Firefighting Unit, which was part of the IAF up until November of 2016.

“We found out that there were wildfires raging in Macedonia, and that Israel wanted to assist. We received the mission on Monday, and less than 24 hours later, we were already flying the ‘Karnaf’ with firefighters, logistics crews and firefighting equipment onboard. To plan the mission successfully, we had to fully understand the extent of the mission, the expected weightload, how much fuel would be needed and whether or not we would not to make a fueling stop along the way”, said Capt. Dor, a Flight Engineer from the “Knights of the Yellow Bird” Squadron, which operates the “Karnaf” aircraft.

Pilots, navigators, flight engineers and load masters all took off for the mission. “Looking at Macedonia from the sky, we saw whole areas of the country up in flames, with smoke still rising up from certain areas. We realized that if we see the smoke from that height, the fires must be huge”.

The IAF Provides Assistance in Macedonia Fires

Photography: “Knights of the Yellow Birds” Squadron

Friendship and Cooperation
The “Karnaf” aircraft landed in the Macedonian international airport, which also serves as a military base. “We were hosted by a helicopter squadron in the base for a few hours, exchanging patches emblazoned with our countries’ flags. They received our Israeli flag patches, and we received their Macedonian patches. Towards the end of the week, we returned to Macedonia so as to bring our Israeli aircrew members back home before the Sabbath started. It was the first humanitarian aid mission I took a part of. We train every day, and what provides us with satisfaction and excitement is succeeding at such missions”.

The IAF Provides Assistance in Macedonia Fires

Lt. Col. Alon, Commander of the “Knights of the Yellow Birds” Squadron alongside Lt. Col. (Res’) Tomer,
Commander of the Aerial Firefighting Unit

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