REVIEW: Field Trip to 443 Helicopter Squadron, October 24, 2018

Who knew that building would be as big as it is?

It’s the ultimate guy garage with over 220,000 square feet of inside space for wrenching your favourite of over a dozen helicopters or a really fast car collection!

443 Squadron in their just 2 years young really impressive building at the far end south west of the YYJ Airfield is home to up to 300 proud women and men who look after all manner of our helicopter fleet for our Canadian Airforce on the west coast.

The high security building which is massive, houses offices, extensive parts and service shops as well as training areas. Helicopters old or new require a tremendous amount of care and attention to keep them ready for the various roles they can serve in.

Under the massive hanger space we found (the just about to be retired from service 5 Sea Kings)  that have been used for over 50 years in addition to 2 at time of writing and soon to be up to 7 new CH 148 Cyclone helicopters. While no announcements have been made, the SeaKings might well get sold to an industrial concern or other friendly country. Although aging, they are all in flight ready status having been very well maintained over their service life.

The new Cyclones built by Sikorsky have twice the horsepower under the hood at 6000 HP each that will allow the new machines faster speed and longer range capabilities along with more interior space for gear and crew that fly on the various missions. Being new, these Cyclones have all the latest avionics and very sophisticated radar and communications equipment.

These machines can be used in a rescue emergency to lift people from the water or a moving vessel on the water. The machines are also critical when tasked to work with our Canadian Navy on board our ships that serve in many roles on security here on our coasts and abroad.

It might surprise some to know that these machines can be used to track, and yes, torpedo enemy submarines, or spray a vessel with machine gun fire if they don’t play along with our Canadian security forces. In addition the new machines can avoid detection from enemy missiles by laying out a trail of flares and metal confetti. Pretty James Bond for a real world stuff.

Touring the facility you get the feeling that these people are very motivated to be working in their high skills jobs serving their country in a very Canadian manner. Even though all business, they do know how to smile and greet a visitor to their important work place. Our Canadian military is small compared with our neighbours to the south, however the men and women that serve in it are a proud bunch.

I think that the folks that got to tour with our group shared their pride in being Canadians.

Submitted by VMNC Member Brian Pritchard