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Humanitarian Flights Met at Unlikely Fate at Sea

A Hercules crew from RAF Brize Norton, which completed two humanitarian flights on Sunday and were approaching Manila airport to gather more aid equipment, was said to have heard a Mayday distress call from civilian pilots, according to reports from the United Kingdom government website.

Flight Lieutenant Jamie Knox, captain of RAF C-130 Hercules, right away abandoned his landing and searched for the helicopter in distress, which crashed into Manila Bay waters off Bulacan.

The other pilot, Flight Lieutenant Tom Arnold, also expressed that it was an “instinctive response.” He was quoted saying in the report, “When we heard that Mayday we knew we had to do something.”

The helicopter in distress had just delivered humanitarian relief goods to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Visayas region. Luckily, the pilots were able to inform their last known position to the RAF Hercules over the radio. To which the C-130 crew headed at once. The RAF crew finally saw the life vests of two helicopter crew members.

Flight Lieutenant Arnold called the Manila air traffic control and the Philippine Coast Guard for further assistance.

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) C-130 Hercules also responded on the scene for assistance and dropped off a life raft for the two pilots.

Report said the C-130’s call sign ‘PAGASA 47’ which means ‘there is still hope’ stayed over the life raft until it saw a fishing vessel headed toward the pilot-survivors. Then it handed to the USMC aircraft the control and continued with their humanitarian mission in Manila.