By 13:00 the weather was starting to clear and blue skies would be the forecast for the afternoon events. Today's flight was going to be in the CC-115 Buffalo. Only six Buffalo's are in service in the Canadian Forces and all are based at Comox. The SARTechs on this flight would be competing in the Accuracy Event where each SARTech would try and land as close to the center of the Drop Zone (DZ). A measurement would be made from the center of the DZ to where the SARTech landed - the farther away from the center of the DZ, the higher the score. SARtechs from No.442 "Snake" (Comox) and No.413 "Tusker" (Greenwood) would be on this flight.
The Buffalo is a much smaller plane than the Hercules and photographing was much more difficult as we were strapped in to our seats for the duration of the flight - this made getting "the shot" very challenging. With the last competing SARTechs out of the plane we had two SARTechs left - Master Warrant Officer Andy Morris of Comox and Warrant Officer John Oakes of Trenton still on board. We would climb to 10,000 ft for there practice jump over CFB Comox. This jump would be a free fall and would present me with a superb photo of the SARTechs jumping from the ramp.
After the Buffalo flight, I made my way to Goose Spit to photograph the Accuracy Event from the ground. The weather was terrific with light winds and blue skies. After a day and a half of poor weather, the SARTechs had the weather they were expecting from Comox. But now there were different delays in the action, this time it was aircraft problems. After a two hour delay, the competeion was ready to resume. I was able to photograph the SARTechs as they landed in the DZ, the skill demonstrated in flying their canopies to the DZ was impressive and the landings made for some terrific photos.
With 18:00 fast approaching the CC-130E Hercules made it's way to Goose Spit for its "Bundle Drop" - delivery of medical supplies to the victims by dropping the pallet out of the back of the Hercules, this too was judged on the accuracy and length of time it took the crew to finish this task. Unfortunately, I was already behind schedule due to the earlier delays and was not able to take in the rest of the exercise.
The opportunity to fly and be "on the inside" of this military exercise was an honour, witnessing first hand the skill and professionalism demonstrated by all the Canadian Forces SAR members during SAREX 2004. I would like to personally thank Capt. Cheryl Robinson - 19 Wing PAFO, Capt. Kevin Toone -442 Sqn., Major Joel Roy - Commanding Officer 439 ESC and MSgt. Gabriel Tuba - 435 Sqn. for all their support and work throughout the week.