IT CAN carry 220 tonnes of freight but yesterday the RAF Hercules transport aircraft’s most precious cargo weighed just six pounds.
As gale force winds and ice grounded civilian aircraft, the Hercules flew a four-day-old boy from Swansea to Glasgow for life-saving treatment.
The mission began when doctors at Singleton Hospital in Swansea said that the tiny baby, who was suffering from a severe lack of oxygen because his lungs were not working properly, would die without specialist treatment.
Space was found at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill, in Glasgow, 350 miles away. But on a stormy night, with the air ambulance and RAF rescue helicopters grounded, there seemed to be no way to get him there.
So the RAF agreed to scramble a Tristar to fly two doctors and a paediatric nurse and their equipment from Glasgow to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Meanwhile, the giant Hercules military transporter was flown from RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire to Brize Norton and was waiting on the tarmac to pick them up.
It then took off for Cardiff airport, from where the medical team travelled the 40 miles by road to Swansea. They spent several hours stabilising the baby before returning to Glasgow in the Hercules.
The aircraft touched down at about 10am, with paramedics standing by to transfer the baby to an incubator before taking him to Yorkhill in a special neonatal ambulance.
- A story that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, and pride in that people can work so hard to save a tiny person. Let's hope the treatment is successful.