Sea King helicopters embark on farewell tour after 55 years of service


WATCH: You may have seen them chopping up the sunny skies this afternoon. The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Sea-King helicopters were flying in formation along Vancouver Island’s coastline to celebrate their upcoming retirement. Kori Sidaway got to go on the ride of a lifetime and has more.

It’s not every day you look out your window and see three Canadian military helicopters flying in formation.

“It’s been in service for 55 years, flown on numerous different types of ships,” said Sea King pilot Capt. Carly Brooker

“And the missions it has within its walls have all been really notable missions.”

A full generation of Canadian air force helicopters, the Sea Kings, are taking their last few victory laps around the island this week before they’re retired.

“I feel very honoured to be able to fly the Sea King especially in the last few years of its life, knowing the history it’s had,” said Brooker.

“And I feel very grateful to be a part of that history.”

Known as the Cold War workhorse, the Sea Kings are maritime helicopters built in the 1960s specifically for anti-submarine warfare.

“Landing on the back of a ship is the most challenging thing we’d do. The North Atlantic seas can be quite challenging and rough.” said Brooker.

They were later used in international peacekeeping operations, domestic search and rescue and counter-narcotic operations.

And clipped in, doors opened, and right to the edge at a couple thousand feet, you can truly understand why these were the eyes and ears for Canadian warships for 55 years.

“I learned everything when it comes to aviation on this aircraft, so ya I’m going to miss it a lot actually,” said Sea King aviation technician Asnk Assefa.

“Happy, sad, a lot of emotions,” said Brooker.

The helicopters will be replaced by the new generation, the Cyclone, and crews will train over the next year.

“It’s like going from a rotary dial telephone to a smartphone. The differences are going to be interesting to learn,” said Brooker.

The final victory lap will be on Dec. 1, before they cut the engines, and call an end to their 55 years of service to the country.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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