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RCAF’s Comox 442 squadron wins top SAR award

April 2, 2012, Comox, B.C. - AgustaWestland extends congratulations to the members of Royal Canadian Air Force 442 Squadron at CFB Comox, on winning the SAR Award for Operational Rescue Excellence at the 2012 Shephard’s Search and Rescue Conference in Dublin.


April 2, 2012
By Carey Fredericks


Topics

"The crew of Royal Canadian Air Force Cormorant, call sign “Rescue 907”
of 442 Squadron were the clear choice of the judges for this year’s SAR
Award for Operational Rescue Excellence,” said Alex Giles, CEO of
U.K.-based Shephard Media. “Their rescue of an injured hiker from Hat
Mountain, B.C., at night and in the most demanding of weather
conditions, displayed exceptional flying skill, crew coordination and
personal bravery.”
 
On hand to receive congratulations and the rescue award were Aircraft
Commander Capt. Jean Leroux stationed at CFB Comox and SARTech Sgt.
George Olynyk, who is now stationed at CFB Gander.  They were presented
with the award by Chris Reynolds, Director General of the Irish Coast
Guard, the host organization for the conference. The other members of
the crew who were honoured by the awards are Maj. Troy Maa, First
Officer; Sgt Carl Schouten, Flight Engineer; and search and rescue
technician (SARTech) Master Cpl Nicholas Nissen.
 
“For that mission we had all the complicated elements, high winds,
icing, severe down flow, at night, high altitude and low visibility, but
we had the right crew and the best machine to do the job – I pushed my
crew to the maximum, but we pushed also the (Cormorant) to the maximum
and neither let us down,” said Capt. Leroux at the award ceremony. “That
night we had a bit of time on the long return transit to talk about the
mission, and we all said that we hoped we’d never have to do that
again.”
 
The crew was dispatched on the night of December 23, 2010 to rescue a
23-year-old man who was stranded on a steep side of Hat Mountain in
Cypress Provincial Park, B.C. The Cormorant crew were racing against
time, with powerful winter storm approaching. The stranded hiker was
located at 1,600 metres up the mountain, 150 metres into dense clouds,
in a narrow and steep bowl. As the crew approached in their AW101
“Cormorant” helicopter, they were battered by the turbulence of 85 kph
wind gusts blowing straight down the mountain.
 
This is the second rescue award for the crew. They were presented the
2011 Cormorant Trophy in November in a ceremony at CFB Comox in the
presence of Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk
and base commander Col. Jim Benninger.
 
“This crew is fully deserving of the national and international
recognition for this extremely difficult rescue,” said AgustaWestland
Canada Head of Region Jeremy Tracy. “It is also rewarding to us that
Canada’s brave search and rescue crews put their faith in the
capabilities of the Cormorant so they can confidently focus on their
primary task of saving Canadian lives.”


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