Yokota provides support following massive earthquake
By , 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 11, 2011
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- At approximately 2:50 pm local time, Yokota Air Base experienced an earthquake measuring 5.0 in magnitude here March 11. While no injuries were reported on base and damage to facilities was minor, other regions did not fare as well.
The quake, measuring 8.9 in magnitude at its epicenter, and subsequent Tsunami waves, caused significant damage along the Japanese coast and disrupted flight operations at several Japanese airports including Tokyo's Narita International Airport.
In response to the crisis, Yokota Air Base became an interim landing site for 11 aircraft which were diverted from quake-stricken airports.
Yokota's airfield operations personnel guided the airliners safely to the ground and assigned ramp space to the new arrivals. Through the afternoon and into the night, Airmen provided these aircraft required servicing and fuel before departure to operational civilian airports.
By 10:00 pm local time, nine of the 11 aircraft had safely departed Yokota Air Base. Flight crews from the remaining two airliners elected to remain here at Yokota Air Base overnight, another challenge which Yokota Airmen promptly managed.
All 599 passengers were offloaded from their planes and lodged at the base's Taiyo community center. The facility, traditionally a large ballroom, was equipped with chairs, blankets, flight meals and water to keep the passengers comfortable until their aircraft could continue on its mission.
"We're pleased we were able to step in and fill this void," said Steven Mayfield, Chief of the Airmen and Family Readiness Center, as he aided passengers at the community center. "It's a representation of not only Yokota's, but America's compassion to disaster situations."
The remaining visiting aircraft are currently scheduled to depart Yokota Air Base around mid-day today. Until then, Yokota Airmen will continue to provide relief and shelter to their unexpected guests.