For the first time in the history of the Presidential Security Group, the air assets of the Philippine Navy were utilized as primary helicopters for the presidential movement. This achievement merits not only the aviators and crew who finished the mission safely but also the personalities rooted from all the successful stages of acquiring reliable assets and developing personnel for significant missions. This feat is one of the positive manifestations of the jointness of TEAM AFP.
AW109E Naval Helicopters
The newly acquired AgustaWestland 109E Naval Helicopters have momentarily transformed from Navy Flight to Bluebird Flight and finally to KALAYAAN FLIGHT during the movement of His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III. The flight composed of PNH-430 and PNH-432 and flown by the gallant aviators of Naval Air Group and the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, have successfully accomplished the mission of providing safe, secure, and effective air transportation to the Commander-In-Chief and his party from Malacanang to Camp Aquino, Tarlac and back.
The AW109E Naval Helicopters are the products of the Naval Helicopter Acquisition Project (NHAP) which started in 2009 and was completed in 2013. According to Capt Alberto B. Carlos PN (GSC) in his book “Clear Sky and Green Deck”, the acquisition splashed the Navy with optimism to breach the long drought and quench the thirst of pilots for new procurement. Indeed, the NHAP has grown into a fruitful investment that would benefit the AFP, its stakeholders, and the Filipino people.
As mandated by AFP policy, the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing of the Philippine Air Force is the sole unit tasked to provide safe, secure and effective air transportation to the President of the Republic of the Philippines, his family, heads of state, and other local and foreign VVIP’s. The operational needs of the Presidential movement will dictate the utilization of other air assets not in the inventory of the Presidential unit. Likewise, security policy of PSG dictates that a pilot of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing shall act as safety pilot or co-pilot in the aircraft to ensure safety, security and adherence to protocol during the duration of the flight. This has been strictly implemented especially during instances where civilian helicopters were tapped to be used during presidential flights.
The 250th Presidential Airlift Wing headed by its Wing Commander, COL ARNOLD A MANCITA O-9247 PAF(GSC) tapped the utilization of the Naval helicopters because the Presidential helicopters were geographically prepositioned in various areas of Central and Southern Philippines to support upcoming movements of HE PBSAIII. To adhere to policies and equip Presidential pilots the needed knowledge and skills to perform their duties safely, COL ARIEL CACULITAN, the Naval Air Group Commander of the Philippine Fleet immediately ordered the AW109E Instructor Pilots led by LCDR NERELITO P MARTINEZ PN to conduct the Modified Co-Pilot Qualification Course to COL ARNOLD A MANCITA PAF(GSC), Wing Commander, 250th PAW;COL DENNIS G ESTRELLA PAF(GSC), Director for Operations, 250th PAW; and CPT MARIA GHIRLY A SOLIS PAF. LCDR ARIEL COLOMA, the Squadron Commander of the Naval Helicopter Squadron was also very instrumental in conducting the lecture in helicopter systems and flight procedures at a very short notice. He also made himself readily available for the countless questions thrown to him by the student pilots. The course was successfully finished with excellent performance by the student pilots. Hence, they were initially awarded with an AW109E Naval Helicopter Patch and were recommended for the issuance of appropriate orders as AW109E Naval Helicopter Co-Pilots.
The Presidential Flight Crew Badge
Successfully flying the President of the Republic of the Philippines is an achievement done with great pride and honor. Together with it was a great opportunity for the Philippine Navy to showcase the multi-role capability of its new Naval Helicopters. From preparation to execution phase, a total flying time of 8+19 was logged by the two (2) Naval Helicopters with seven (7) sorties and nine (9) passengers.
Traditionally, as covered by (Standing) Operating Procedures, the pilots and crew who took part in the actual flight mission shall be awarded the coveted Presidential Flight Crew Badge in recognition of their outstanding feat. The following personnel have shown great responsibility in the successful air transportation of HEPBSAIII and are awarded the Presidential Flight Crew Badge:
1. LCDR NERELITO P MARTINEZ PN Flight Commander/Pilot-in Command
2. LT HERBERT JUNE G DANG-AWAN PN Pilot-in-Command
3. AD1 Ronie J Baisa PN Chief Crew
4. AD3 Rolly A Daylusan PN Chief Crew
Moreover, the following pilots and crew of the Naval Aviation Group were also instrumental in the
successful accomplishment of the mission:
1. LT LEO C PENACERRADA PN First Pilot, PNH430
2. LT RODERICK V GEMINO PN First Pilot, PNH432
3. AD3 Ricardo C Montano PN Asst. Chief Crew, PNH430
Teamwork, Responsiveness and Flexibility are qualities not new to Presidential Security Group, 250th Presidential Airlift Wing, Naval Air Group, and the whole of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Each of its workhorses seeks to uphold an institution that is credible, reliable, and trustworthy for the Filipino people. notwithstanding the odds, they do their jobs for the benefit of what is right and safe.