Tuesday Practice Day

Tuesday was reserved for briefings and some pracitce jumps for the SAR crews, it would also be my first flight in a Hercules.

Canadian CC-130's are in high demand and SAREX was able to acquire one for the exercise. Herc 310The "Herc" and crew for this flight was from 17 Wing, CFB Winnipeg. The flight was delayed due to cloud and high winds and there was a chance of the flight being cancelled due to the poor weather. The winds started to settle (20 knots!) so myself and the rest of the media were given a safety brief from "Gabe" - MasterSgt. Gabriel S. Tuba, the Load Master of the Herc. We would be carrying a dozen SARTechs on the first flight. The flight to the Drop Zone (DZ) was very close by located at Goose Spit, around a 5 minute flight. The drop would be from 3000 ft and some of the SARTechs were not too ambitious to be dropping into a 20-25 knot wind. Although these winds were still within there safety training limits you had to feel for these guys. When it came close to the first group of SARTechs (also known as a "stick") you could see the team work and focus in each person. As they now had there "game face" on, it was time to check over each others parachutes and safety gear and with the final once over and a quick hand shake and or high five, it was drop time. The same routine of professionalism and confidence was displayed by each SARTech. Gabe is very much part of the team and was also in on the hand shakes and high fives to the SARTechs before there jumps. During the flight I was able to climb up into the cockpit and take a closer look at the pilots and Flight Engineer (FE) manoeuver the plane in line with the DZ. I was given a great seat right behind the pilots and was able to see right over there shoulders. The view outside the Herc was terrific and was an amazing photo opportuntiy.

We then landed back at Comox to pick up six more SARTechs for there jumps. This time I was able to sit in one of the two spotter chairs located just ahead of the ramp. I would be strapped into the seat and wearing a helmet and visor for protection (this did not affect shooting as much as I thought it might). After takeoff and on our climb to altitude, "Gabe" opened the ramp and the view was amazing. Soon we were over Goose Spit again and the six new SARTEchs were ready for their jumps. After the last jumps were completed, "Gabe" closed the ramp and we went on a little site seeing your north around Campbell River, flying over a pulp mill, marina and a few other landmarks it was time to head back to Comox. I was quite surprised with how smooth the flight was in the Herc as the weather was less than ideal but it reflected what a real SAR call would be like - these men and women don't do their work in only good weather.


SAREX Monday

SAREX Wednesday

Copyright 2004 - Derek Heyes