Archive for Thursday, January 27, 2005

Flying tsunami relief

January 27, 2005

A former Baldwin High School graduate and Eudora High School teacher now in the Air Force is flying cargo planes of supplies to tsunami-ravaged areas in southern Asia.

First Lt. Nathan Perry has been working 20-hour days as a pilot on C-130s since the first of the month, said his father, Charlie Perry of Baldwin. Nathan Perry is flying between Thailand and Malaysia.

"They sleep while they offload (supplies)," Charlie Perry said. "Then they fly back and sleep another four hours and keep going back and forth. I haven't heard much from him lately."

Nathan Perry, who is with the 36th Airlift Squadron, is normally based in Yokota, Japan. The C-130 is a four-engine turboprop that can carry 22 tons of cargo; missions now are ferrying supplies including food, medicine and water.

Before Christmas, Nathan Perry was flying humanitarian mission air drops to islands in Micronesia from Anderson Air Base on Guam, his father said.

"He's got a lot of flying time," Charlie Perry said.

In a letter to his dad, Nathan Perry outlined what that flying time is like.

"Flying is work ... (flight) Restrictions, no radar coverage, weak radio signals ... But I love it," Nathan Perry said. "I have logged over 60 hours of flight time in two weeks."

Nathan Perry is a 1992 Baldwin High School graduate. After graduating from Kansas State University in 1997 he taught physics and chemistry at Eudora High School until joining the Air Force in 2002. He received his pilot's wings in January 2004.

"He wanted something that was more adventurous," said Charlie Perry, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Lawrence.

In flying the mercy missions, he's found even more than that.

"I have seen many needy and thankful faces," Nathan Perry said in the letter. "Indonesian people are friendly."

Nathan Perry lives near Tokyo with his wife, Kelly; son, Blake, 5; and daughter, Gracie, 7 months.

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