A CH-149 Cormorant military search and rescue helicopter flies down the runway at 19 Wing Comox in March 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY MIKE KAEHLER, RCAF HISTORIAN)

A CH-149 Cormorant military search and rescue helicopter flies down the runway at 19 Wing Comox in March 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY MIKE KAEHLER, RCAF HISTORIAN)

Airforce search and rescue helicopter drops in at Cameron Lake for training

Distinctive yellow CH-149 Cormorant turns heads after using Island lake for impromptu hoist

The sudden appearance of a CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue helicopter swooping low over Cameron Lake took drivers on Highway 4 by surprise, Thursday afternoon (Aug. 13, 2020).

The yellow and red helicopter deposited two search and rescue technicians (SARTechs) into the lake halfway between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni, flew away, then returned to pick them up in a simulated rescue, Cormorant pilot Capt. Bill Wyss said. The hoist training was only an exercise, he explained.

The Cormorant crew—they were flying with eight personnel instead of the usual five—had been in Victoria in the morning, training with Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape Naden. While transiting home to Comox, they decided to perform a hoist exercise and chose Cameron Lake, Wyss said.

“For training, we need to do it over fresh water. The saltwater environment (of the Pacific Ocean) is very corrosive to our aircraft. We were doing some training over Cameron Lake, taking advantage of the freshwater environment.

“Open water rescue and maritime rescue is one of our primary mandates as well as aeronautical emergency response,” Wyss said. “It’s a skill we need to practice.”

The 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 19 Wing Comox is responsible for responding to nautical and aeronautical emergencies in an area of approximately 920,000 square kilometres in coastal British Columbia and Yukon Territory, a lot of it mountainous or over the Pacific Ocean.

Having a base on Vancouver Island, where mountains, lake and the ocean are in such close proximity, is ideal for training opportunities, Wyss said. The Alberni Valley provides numerous lakes and steep mountain terrain that are perfect for training, he added.

The CC-115 Buffalo fixed wing aircraft from 442 Squadron can sometimes be seen flying over the Alberni Valley Regional Airport, using the airport as a practice area for SARTech parachute training.

The Cormorant crew didn’t spend too much time at Cameron Lake before returning home to 19 Wing Comox. “We were operating close to the road and close to shore, and we noticed we were generating interest,” Wyss said. “That’s another reason we don’t want to spend too much time in one area.”



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

airforceAlberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictaviationComoxComox ValleyPORT ALBERNI

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. set up the tube where rainbow trout were released into Spider Lake on Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Michael Briones photo)
Fishing time: 1,800 rainbow trout released into Spider Lake

Society records spike in fishing licences during pandemic

A map showing where the new developments for affordable housing will be located on Moilliet Street in Parksville. (submitted photo)
Parksville city council approves development permit for 87 housing units

Development to include four-storey apartment and eight townhouses

Tree clearing and grubbing will take place March 8 for the French Creek Water Pollution Control Centre upgrade and expansion project. (PQB News file photo)
Work scheduled for March 8 as part of $48.5M French Creek Pollution Control Centre expansion project

Resident questions Regional District of Nanaimo regarding lack of activity to date

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read