Members of the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue in Comox were at Skydive Vancouver Island for a parachute training course from Aug. 22-24.

Members of the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue in Comox were at Skydive Vancouver Island for a parachute training course from Aug. 22-24.

Low-level jumping for ‘canopy training’ at Qualicum Beach Airport

It's was part of Canadian Forces search and rescue training

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. Actually, it was members from the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue parachuting over the Qualicum Beach Airport.

Last week members of the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue, which is based in Comox, were at Skydive Vancouver Island for advanced training in canopy handling.

“This skill set that we’re using now, the canopy handling, is designed to enhance accuracy and kind of stretch the comfort zone of the jumper by using a lot more breaking manoeuvres than we’ve typically used in the past,” warrant officer Shawn Harrison said.

He added that the training they were receiving was learning how to use the entire canopy in a breaking mode to have more accurate lineups to approach a designated target.

With this training, Harrison said they were jumping from a lower level.

Harrison said this training will help them to anticipate what they can see and a chance to practise it.

“There’s not always anything you can do about it, but at least you know how to react with what not to do,” Harrison said. “And more importantly, like hold the position and just maintain a good stable flight and allow those environmental factors to just do what they’re going to do.”

Harrison said they will eventually teach what they learned to their students in Comox.  “It’s an advanced skill that we wanted to have for ourselves before we incorporate that into the training program for the next generation,” Harrison said.

“We’ll kind of teach it as a basic level — a safe level to get all of our students into any of the areas they’re going to have to potentially see as operational SAR Techs down the road,” said Harrison, using night jumps as an example.

At the school, Harrison said they teach SAR techs that get posted across the country. He said the school has different phases, such as a parachuting phase in the spring. “We’re proficient, so that when we start teaching our students, we know the latest and greatest right off the bat,” Harrison said.