Students from Palalaua College Taken on a Helicopter Ride

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Village of Siumu welcome HMAS Choules navy helicopter MH-60R Seahawk

Friday, 23 August 2019 Apia Samoa. Th‏e vast fields of LDS Church College, Pesega, and Palalaua College hosted the landing and taking off of the HMAS Choules’ helicopter as it took tours for lucky students from nearby schools.

With a top speed of around 330 kilometers per hour, the navy helicopter MH-60R Seahawk took off from LDS Church College at 9:30am with students from Samoa Primary, St Mary’s College and Samoa College on board.

The Seahawk’s crew of four then flew over Upolu to conduct another session on the south side from Palalaua College’s field at 12:30pm.

Ms Ann Laulala who teaches Computing and Science at Palalaua College enjoyed being part of the program and said it was a thrilling life experience.

“It was so amazing! Thank you to Australia for the opportunity. This was the first time to ride around and explore the island, beaches and mountains on a helicopter,”

L to R: Palalaua College Headboy Mr Siusega Mataala, Ms Ann Laulala, GPCAPT Wendy Horder – Australian Officer at the Women, Peace and Security Summit, Palalaua College Headgirl Ms Malita Setu.

“There was three of us from Palalaua College, myself, the Headboy Mr. Siusega Mataala, and Headgirl Ms. Malita Setu. We enjoyed it so much. The helicopter once swayed side-to-side in the wind, and all three of us got scared, and we looked at one another and started laughing,” Ms Laulala said.

The helicopter is in Samoa as part of the Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Choules visit, and it can carry out a wide variety of missions which include search and rescue, logistics support, load lifting, personnel transport and medical evacuation.

Australia’s Defence Force share a decades-long engagement in the Pacific, including the recent visit of HMAS Sirius to Samoa, the Defence Cooperation Program, the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, and the Pacific Maritime Security Program.

Australian High Commissioner Her Excellency Sara Moriarty highlighted the importance of such resources for transporting humanitarian aid and specialist personnel and equipment.

“Australia shares the responsibilities and challenges our region is faced with, and Australia’s Defence Force plays a vital role in providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief when required,” Ms Moriarty said,

“Today’s exercise will ensure that children are familiar with assets such as helicopters that might be deployed in response to a disaster, to lessen the trauma and provide some comfort should they ever be in the position of requiring assistance,” she concluded.