Op TORAL personnel lift the weight of a Puma helicopter for Comic Relief

On 15th March 2019 Afghanistan-based TORAL Aviation Detachment (TAD) spent the day lifting, benching, pressing, squatting or dead-lifting any weight, as many times as they could, raising money for Comic Relief.

The challenge was to lift the equivalent of 10 Puma Helicopters, which has a maximum weight of 7,400 kg. With a target set at 74,000 kg, the actual total lifted was 335,526kg, this equated to over 45 Puma Helicopters! Joining the RAF in their efforts were personnel from The First Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles.

The event, started early at 6:30am, and the first Puma was lifted by 7:10am by Cpl John Aubrey. The most lifted was by Flight Sergeant Dan Whittington, who managed 30,000kg throughout the day – equating to over four Pumas by himself!

There was a steady flow of personnel throughout the day from both services, each taking part and lifting their ‘Puma’ or more if they were feeling strong enough. Some tried the heavy weight / less reps approach; others went for lighter weights / more reps. But every rep was counted and added to the total, which was a test of mathematics in itself! The TAD hanger gym had never been so busy!

"I wondered if we would be able to lift even 10 Pumas, so to lift over 45 just proves how hard everyone pushed themselves"

Flying Officer Penny Harrison
Event organiser

Flying Officer Penny Harrison said: “I am so pleased that so many individuals from TAD were able to support the challenge, and that we were able to lift so much! When I originally thought of the challenge I wondered if we would be able to lift even 10 Pumas, so to lift over 45 just proves how hard everyone pushed themselves. A particular thanks to 1 RGR, who lifted a significant amount by themselves."

British troops are deployed in Afghanistan to provide assistance to the Afghan National Security and Defence Forces as part of the wider NATO Resolute Support Mission. Personnel from all three services train, advise and assist their Afghan counterparts in key areas such as developing the Afghan officers of the future at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy, whilst British troops of the Kabul Security Force provide their protection and security as they move around Kabul. 

This is the first time that TAD has participated in such an event for Comic Relief. And it was well supported, with the total amount raised so far a fantastic £410. It was also well supported by the UK, with regular updates via Facebook to friends and families, who were able to support and sponsor their loved ones throughout the day. 

Fg Off Harrison (2nd from left) organised the event.

Flying Officer Harrison said: "I am so grateful to everyone who has been involved and the support we received from back in the UK; and lastly thank you to everyone for their donations!”

RAF Puma helicopters were used during Op RUMAN - the Caribbean hurricane relief effort in 2017

Also read: Hurricane Irma Relief

Also read: Royal Air Force Puma Helicopters overcome challenges of Afghan winter

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