United Nations’ World Water Day – 22 March – is an international occasion drawing attention to the challenges faced by billions of people around the world who do not have access to clean water.
Photo credit: Rich Hunt
Those living in Bangladesh experience some of the most extreme water challenges on earth. Climate change is leading to the contamination of arable land by sea water and seasonal flooding ruins thousands of lives every year.
An amphibious aircraft is a lifeline at times of natural disaster, enabling humanitarian relief to reach those in greatest need. The only humanitarian floatplane able to reach the remotest and most desperate parts of Bangladesh is provided by Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).
Whilst en-route to Bangladesh from production in the USA, MAF’s newest floatplane made a flying visit to mark World Water Day, touching down on British waters at the historic seaplane site in Calshot, Southampton.
This was the first public water landing made in England for many years – a rare moment in aviation history
Witnessed by hundreds of people who came from across the country, the unique water landing demonstrated the life-saving impact this aircraft will have in some of the most isolated places on earth.
Thanks to support from UK aid, and partnership with hundreds of humanitarian agencies, including DFID, UNDP and World Food Programme, thousands of lives have been transformed in Bangladesh through MAF’s floatplane operation.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: 'Bangladesh has a strong track record in preventing loss of life from the devastating floods and cyclones which hit the country every year. The arrival of this new seaplane backed by UK aid will enable experts to immediately provide aerial surveys to identify the areas worst hit by floods. This will ensure that the right type of lifesaving aid gets to those in dire need.
'More than eight million people across Bangladesh were affected in some way or other by the floods last year. Homes were destroyed and livelihoods ruined, but UK aid is making a difference and is ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people are protected.'
'Bangladesh has a strong track record in preventing loss of life from the devastating floods and cyclones which hit the country every year'
Penny Mordaunt International Development Secretary
Expertly landing the aircraft on the Solent at Calshot, MAF seaplane pilot Chad Tilley said: 'When we announced that MAF was getting a new aircraft in Bangladesh, a room full of our partners gave a standing ovation! We all know how important the aircraft is as a tool to reach the most isolated areas of Bangladesh. Normally we see planes on land, but this event at Calshot gave people in the UK an opportunity to see what seaplane flying all about.'
Working together with Hampshire County Council and the RNLI at Calshot – who provided safety boats for the water landing – MAF was delighted to provide a unique opportunity for the public to see a floatplane in action and learn more about MAF’s humanitarian work.