Flying Ops

Wow. This was probably one of the best weeks on course… some of the best days on course for sure.

Watch the video!!! It’s really cool

The 49ers were split into 2 groups, half doing one thing while the other half does something else then switch for the afternoon. It’s flying ops!

Tuesday is when flying started, Monday we had a critical care paramedic come in and talk about treating patients in airplanes. This was very informative, we learned some stuff you’d never think about in terms of different equipment working weird and how patients act at altitude and with the plane/helicopter bouncing around ect. Tuesday the fun began.

Our group started in the Cormorant helicopter. We flew out to a remote area of the island and practiced hoisting in and out of the helicopter. What a cool idea! You’re standing on the ground with a 23000 pound (10500kg) helicopter floating 60ft above you and you hoist back into it. We also doubled up as if we had a survivor, so you throw a sling around your buddy and they hug you as you hoist up… pretty cool. The afternoon we learned about different equipment we throw out of our planes to rescue scenes. Different rescue kits and life rafts we throw to people, and some of the scenarios as to why we would throw different kits to different people. All the kits have parachutes so we learned about the different sizes of chutes for different reasons as well.

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Walking out to the helicopter

Wednesday morning we flew in the Buffalo airplane. Not as exciting as the helicopter but still valuable training. We practiced throwing a pump to a boat (in case the boat were taking on water). We threw some training life rafts to a boat. This consists of flying at 300 ft above the water and at a precise moment you throw the kit out the back of the plane. We also did a message drop, so you have a small bundle with a message in it (sometimes a radio) and the plane fly’s at 150ft above the ground and you throw it at a precise moment and try to hit the target.

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Wednesday afternoon, our helicopter flight was cancelled… but we more then made up for it Thursday Morning. Half of the group drove down to the sea school and hopped onto a boat and headed off into the ocean. The group I was with headed to the helicopter. After a crew briefing and gathering some equipment the helicopter started up and away we went. We flew out to the ocean to meet our buddies on the boat. With the incredible skill of the pilot he lined the helicopter up with the moving boat and held it there as we one by one hoisted out of the helicopter and onto the boat. This takes a lot of careful maneuvers and hand signals as both the boat and helicopter are moving and the weather/winds/sea are unpredictable. Our buddies on the boat hoisted back into the helicopter and went for a quick flight (since it’s us who were behind on flight hours). They then all hoisted back on the boat and we doubled back into the helicopter. Basically we paired up, one person on the hoist and the other person on the rescue sling we use to rescue people with.

Once back in the helicopter we took off and in flight had to put on all our dive gear. This means; scuba tanks, fins, buoyancy compensator, masks, gloves. On top of the lpy life vest and our hoisting harness. It was quite the experience… before we knew it, we were hovering 10 to 20 feet over Comox Lake with a slight forward speed. With all our gear on, one at a time, we stepped out of the helicopter and entered the water… this was really cool. Once we all gathered, we hoisted one by one back into the chopper.

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In the Heli with full gear (pretty crowded)
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Water Entry

Now it was off to Goose Spit (close to where we did our sea survival training)… remember, we’re catching up for our missed flight… this time it was a 80 to 100 foot hover and the gear we had on was a harness and some rope. We each repelled down to the ground on a rope… really cool. The helicopter landed this time and we casually walked back on a headed back to base.

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After Rope Descent at Goose Spit

We finished the week off with an exam (of course), cleaning up all the gear we used, sorting and drying our stuff, and a nice sunny barbecue for Friday Lunch to end the week and what seems like a marathon of training since Christmas.

Our boss and instructors shook our hands, and said “enjoy the week off, it’s well deserved, but when you get back it’s go go go until Grad week”. We still have a lot of work to do, but a lot of work is behind us. I get to spend the week with my beautiful wife and when I get back we’re off to Arizona for Para-Phase…


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