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  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Default End Of An Era In Canadian Search And Rescue Ops

    I apologize for not being able to post the pictures that go with the story, but here it is nonetheless.

    Last of the yellow Labs flies off. Farewell to a symbol of rescue

    Jim Beatty Vancouver Sun Saturday, September 14, 2002

    VICTORIA -- The last of the distinctive yellow helicopters that have hovered over West Coast disaster scenes for four decades, rescuing fishermen from icy waters or stranded climbers from mountain tops, left British Columbia for the final time Friday.

    With its massive twin rotors thumping through the air, B.C.'s last Labrador helicopter flew out of Canadian Forces Base in Comox en route to CFB Trenton, where it will remain in active service for at least the next year while replacements are being built.

    "Literally thousands of hikers, snowmobilers, boaters and aviators owe their lives to the Labrador," said Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Goodman of 442 Squadron, who has flown Labradors on both the east and west coasts since 1984. "If there is a legacy it is the committed service."

    As the twin-rotor workhorse slipped over the B.C. horizon Friday morning, Goodman admitted it was an emotional time for many pilots.

    "I had a little bit of water in my eye, I couldn't tell if it was the dust it kicked up or the emotions. To hear the distinct rotor noises and realize that is probably the last time I'll hear it, that really struck a chord. I definitely had a lump in my throat."

    For most of the last 40 years, four Labradors have provided search and rescue services for British Columbia, the Yukon and the offshore waters extending more than 1,000 kilometres from the coast.

    With a crew of five, the Labradors flew thousands of missions, descending into the most hazardous conditions to rescue downed air travellers from mountainsides, mariners in rough waters and climbers from sub-zero whiteout conditions.

    The last rescue for the departing Labrador was last month, when it plucked three men from the wreck of their downed helicopter that had crashed into the mountains north of Vancouver.

    "On its final mission, it found the people alive so it's a nice way to see the helicopter off," said Captain Jeff Manney.

    The largest West Coast rescue effort, which made international headlines, was in 1980, when the helicopters rescued 510 passengers from a burning cruise ship off the coast of Alaska.

    One inoperable Labrador remains at CFB Comox. Military officials say it will become part of an aircraft museum. A new fleet of five Cormorant helicopters -- painted the same distinctive yellow with red trim -- now serves the coast.

    Canadian taxpayers will pay about $780 million for 15 Italian-made Cormorants. While B.C.'s Cormorants are active now, it will be the end of next year before the entire Canadian fleet is operational.

    Despite the many successes of the Labrador, there were some dramatic failings. Six crashed in the line of duty, the worst accident being a 1998 crash in Quebec in which six Canadian Forces personnel were killed. In British Columbia in 1992, a Labrador crashed near Bella Coola, killing one crew member.

    In recent years, the Labradors have been much criticized for their outdated technology and lengthy record of engine troubles.

    But Greenwood said the Labs have been criticized unfairly. "I've flown in the North Atlantic on lousy, very stormy nights and taken fishermen off vessels in heaving storms and it has always performed well. I have nothing but compliments for the craft."

    Defence analyst Martin Shadwick, from Toronto's York University, said Canadian taxpayers got their money's worth and more from the Labradors.

    "I'm sad to see them go, they did a marvelous job," Shadwick said Friday. "We didn't keep updating them as much as we should have. But, all things considered, it is one of the classics."

    As the helicopters aged, maintenance became a problem. Mechanics spent five or more hours on the ground maintaining them for every hour they flew.

    "It was a challenging aircraft to get back into a flying state," said mechanic Sergeant Mike Stacey. "It took a lot of time to get the aircraft fixed. Because the aircraft is old, you had to work that much harder to get it into a flying state . . . When the aircraft broke, it was never something simple. Even a flat tire took three hours to change, because you're working with a 24,000-pound aircraft. It's not an easy task."

    But after working on the Labradors for 12 years, Stacey too is sorry to see them leave the coast. "It was pretty sad to see the old girl go by for the last time. She definitely served us well," he said. "They did a fantastic service to British Columbians."

    jbeatty@direct.ca

    © Copyright 2002 Vancouver Sun
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

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    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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  2. #2
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Hey Rick, I do believe I'm looking at one of those "new" Cormorants parked across the water by the Coast Guard docks. Freakin' thing is HUGE!


    (yeah yeah, I know I bumped a thread 5 years old ... so sue me!)
    September 11th - Never Forget

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    Forum Member DaSharkie's Avatar
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    Funny, the Marine Corps is beginning to phase out the Frogs too. The new Ospreys are coming on line. First operational squadron stood up at MCAS New River, NC at Camp Lejeune a year or so ago. I hear they are getting ready to deploy to the big sand box soon too.

    Amazing that those Frogs are still flying almost 50 years later.
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    Forum Member ndvfdff33's Avatar
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    I remember hearing the Lab's from Greenwood flying over my house all the time. Shook the entire place. The new Cormorants are the same. A buddy from my old dept flys them and used to buzz our house every so often. Nice Helicopter though
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

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  5. #5
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    I was watching all the yachts and sailboats (hundreds!) leaving the Inner Harbour, around Ogden Point and the breakwater on their way to Clover Point for the start of the Swiftsure from my balcony and decided to go down to the water to see if I could get a better view of the boats once they put their sails up out by the breakwater. Watched through the binocs for 10 minutes then decided that I might as well get off my *** and go for a walk while I was down there. So I walked down to the Windsong Marina and back, and sat on a bench to peruse the situation through the binocs again (ok so I was having a smoke after my walk, whatever LOL!) and noticed that it was getting ready to take off. Quite the sight when it eventually did!!! What a monster!

    I guess it was probably a part of the Swiftsure opening ceremonies, because it flew in the direction of Clover Point. It actually just came back and I watched it land from my balcony. Missed it taking off again though. It was a lot louder coming in than taking off.

    I'll see if there's an article with a picture later.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Sheri, you are partly right about it being there for the opening ceremonies, but it would also fly coverage for the first hour or two of the actual race - until they cleared the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and headed into the open ocean. Coast Guard will still shadow them until they get beyond the 200 mile marker, after which they are pretty much on their own till they get close to Hawaii.

    ====

    And thats funny you found a post that is 5 yrs old, and was created when I still worked at the Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria. I remember when the Cormorants came online as the first line SAR a/c.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  7. #7
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Yeah, that makes sense. I also saw a number of Coast Guard vessels, and a few Navy boats too. One was too far away but I think it was the 505 and the other was maybe the 702, both heading toward Clover Point before the beginning of the race.

    Actually, it looks like you can see one of the Navy boats in the attached picture, a view from the Cormorant from Clover Point. I think you can see my apartment building wayyyyyyyyy in the background!


    Weather right for Swiftsure competitors
    Times Colonist
    Published: Sunday, May 27, 2007

    A steady breeze and fine weather propelled the Swiftsure International Yacht Race competitors through their first day of competition yesterday.

    "Things have gone well, we had a good breeze at the start, a good steady westerly and the first start got away cleanly," said Rick Townshend, Swiftsure media liaison.

    Winds between 20 to 25 knots, with peaks up to 30 knots, were reported throughout the day, he said. Swells were moderate. If winds continued overnight, racers could be in position to take a run at record times, said Townshend. "We're expecting relatively early finishes."


    There was one collision near the start line, leaving the Harwar and Panic yachts damaged and unable to continue the Cape Flattery race.

    As well, one person was knocked overboard by a ship boom around 3:30 p.m. and was helped ashore by the Canadian Coast Guard, reported the Joint Rescue Co-ordinaton Centre in Victoria. The injuries were reportedly not serious and the man was conscious.

    Victoria police Sgt. Jim Simpson said early yesterday evening that there had been no major police incidents related to Swiftsure.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

  8. #8
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, and regarding the Cormorant .... the first landing I saw it came in from the West, churning up the water big time and just set her basically straight down. When she came back later in the day, they did the big turn coming East towards the Inner Harbour from the west (? or would that be more south?) and then the long lowwww approach to set her down. Both equally spectacular to see, but I must say the first method is more dramatic to watch
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Thank you Sheri, its good to "see" home again. Clover Point is my 3rd favourite place to be after #2 - Dallas Road (Ogden Point - except during huge wind storms where it becomes #1) and the Lagoon as #1.
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

    "I may be slow, but my work is poor." Chief Dave Balding, MVFD

    "Its not Rocket Science. Just use a LITTLE imagination." (Me)

    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

    impossible solved cotidie. miracles postulo viginti - quattuor hora animadverto

    IACOJ member: Cheers, Play safe y'all.

  10. #10
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    I thought you'd like that

    Really windy today, so there's a bit of white water out there
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
    Honorary Flatlander

    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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