ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE — To support relief efforts in Haiti, Robins Air Force Base will again be the temporary home of a famous plane on a humanitarian mission.
A single-seat U-2 landed at Robins Air Force Base late Wednesday afternoon, and is accompanied by supplies, equipment and about a dozen personnel from Beale Air Force Base in California, according to Lt. Col. Steve Rodriguez.
The U-2 will fly to Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response during the next 30 days to give U.S. officials a better idea of the devastation in the country in order to focus on rebuilding efforts. Rodriguez will be the first pilot to fly the U-2 to Haiti. In a news release, the Air Force stated that could be as soon as Saturday.
The pilot who flew the five-hour mission from Beale was Capt. Cameron Sellers, who was encased in a rubber-like suit similar to a space suit that astronauts wear. The U-2 can reach altitudes as high as 70,000 feet. Sellers said U-2 pilots eat a special diet for 24 hours prior to missions and receive oxygen for an hour before the flight for decompression purposes.
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“I was at the right place at the right time,” Sellers said about being picked to help with the relief efforts in Haiti.
The last time the U-2 was based at Robins was during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
“It’s an old school type of mission,” Sellers said.
The plane has an optical bar camera that produces two miles worth of wet film. According to Sellers, the quality of the wet film used is better than digital and can focus on specific areas. The Air Force is attempting to update maps and find the areas where aid is most needed, according to a news release.
Personnel from the 78th Air Base Wing and the 116th Air Control Wing will provide support to the U-2 team during its month-long stay at Robins.
To contact writer Angela Woolen, call 923-5650.