1. #1
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    Default Holes In The Aircraft Are Plugged With Yellow Tape Before the Sea Bird Training

    Shawnigan Lake residents brace for temporary Sea King invasion

    Bill Cleverley Times Colonist Wednesday, February 04, 2004

    Aviation technician Cpl. Angus MacKenzie inspects yellow tape applied to a Sea King in preparation for training exercises on Shawnigan Lake.

    The military soon will be splashing a Sea King helicopter onto Shawnigan Lake on a daily basis as part of crew training that has been literally frozen out of the East Coast.

    The so called "sea bird" training will begin next week and last until the end of March, Lt.-Col. Carl Wohlgemuth, 443 Helicopter Squadron's commanding officer, told about 35 Shawnigan area residents at a town hall meeting this week.

    The training is normally conducted on the East Coast at a lake near Halifax, Wohlgemuth said, but that lake is frozen. All helicopter pilots are required to undertake the training once a year but the schedule has been backed up a bit because of maintenance problems with the modified Sea Kings.

    With severe winter weather wreaking havoc across the country, Vancouver Island is just about the only part of Canada where the training can be conducted. The saltchuck is not an option, Wohlgemuth said. "If we did it on the ocean the corrosion would eat the aircraft apart," he said.

    Shawnigan Lake is ideal because of its proximity to Victoria airport, where 443 Squadron is housed.

    Wohlgemuth said the training will take place Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 4 or 5 p.m. Each exercise will take 30 minutes to an hour. A navy dive team, marshalled from the government wharf, will be on site at all times.

    No lake traffic will be blocked off during the exercises and as much as possible will be done to minimize noise.

    "My direction to the crews is you won't see anyone come in at low levels," he said, adding the helicopters will approach from about 305 metres.

    "The helicopters will come in at a high level, do the landings and on completion climb back up and head back to Victoria," he said.

    The helicopters being used are slightly modified, he said. Weaponry and some sensors are removed and holes in the aircraft are plugged with yellow tape before the sea bird training.

    Wohlgemuth said he didn't want local residents alarmed at the sight of a taped-up helicopter landing on the water, or worried about an accident or pollution.

    "The yellow tape is there to stop fluid from coming into the aircraft," he said, and not the other way around.

    Emergency-response equipment including booms and absorbent pads will be on site at all times, he said, and water samples will be collected before and after the exercises and tested by an independent firm.

    The Sea Kings can be easily driven on water for short periods, he said.

    "It ends up being a very stable boat once on the water," Wohlgemuth said. And, he said, it kicks up little wake.

    One resident asked how a helicopter would be retrieved if it should sink in the lake, which is about 60 metres deep.

    Wohlgemuth said he assumed a crane would be used or divers would be sent down to attach floatation devices. However, the training has taken place on the East Coast for 33 years with no problems and he doesn't believe there will be problems at Shawnigan.

    "We're not going to lose it. It's like a float-plane landing. We practice it regularly and every pilot does it every year."

    Pilots also will conduct an exercise mandated in as part of a plan to lift flight restrictions imposed after a series of mishaps with the 1960s-vintage aircraft.

    "It's essentially going into the hover and simulating an engine malfunction and then putting it onto the water. Then they taxi it around and depart," Wohlgemuth said.

    Rick Spencer, Cowichan Valley Regional District director for Shawnigan Lake, is thrilled the training will be taking place on Shawnigan.

    "I think it's wonderful," Spencer said. "I think we have to support our Armed Forces in their endeavours."

    Wohlgemuth had no idea whether the training might be carried out at Shawnigan Lake in future years.

    Shawnigan was considered only because of weather conditions on the East Coast, he said.

    "We have to fly the aircraft across the country to bring it here and that's not something we always want to do."

    The primary modified helicopter is stuck in Winnipeg in temperatures of minus 39 degrees. A second Sea King at Pat Bay has been modified as a backup, he said.

    Copyright 2004 Times Colonist (Victoria)


    Shawnigan Lake is in the district to the west of us.. I wonder how many calls the FD will receive of "crashing/sinking" helocopters? LOL
    Last edited by MalahatTwo7; 02-04-2004 at 12:28 PM.
    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)

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    Sounds like us. Instead of fixing the helicopters, we just train the crews to crash them safely.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    MC, this is "Us". These guys are flying out of Victoria, 443 Sqn, with visitors from the East Coast. I am just waiting to hear the dipatches for it. We have one dispatcher who will probably be on during the daytime, and if she is... is all I have to say.
    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.

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