Search and Rescue Demonstration

On Friday April 24th, 2009 the school gathered on the upper fields to watch an exciting demonstration from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron based out of Trenton, Ontario. The squadron was formed in 1935 and is the oldest squadron in the Canadian Air Force. During World War II, 424 Squadron (Sqn), then based out of Hamilton, flew the famous Wellington, Halifax and Lancaster bombers. Following the war, 424 Sqn changed roles, flying fighter aircraft such as the Mustang, and in the 60s, it moved to a transport role, flying the Caribou and Dakota aircraft. In the late 60s, 424 Sqn assumed it’s current Search and Rescue (SAR) role.

The Search and Rescue Squadron’s role is to prevent loss of life and injury though search and rescue alerting, responding and aiding activities using public and private resources. It has a 30 minute response plan during the daytime hours and a two hour response plan at other times, 365 days a year. In addition to it’s SAR missions, it is able to deploy Search Headquarters, respond to major air disasters, provide airlifts and conduct effective SAR training.

The demonstration that took place replicated a typical SAR mission. The CC130 Hercules arrived at the drop zone with precision timing and warmed up the nearly 400 staff and students on the ground with a few low-level flypasts. The wind marker was dropped to test the ground level wind for the paratroopers which were to jump from 2500ft and land perfectly in the centre of the upper track. The SAR Techs made the jump and immediately starting having some fun, spinning wildly with their steerable chutes. Once on the ground, the SAR Techs normally would be administering medical aid and stabilizing the casualties. Fortunately today, the SAR Techs swapped that portion with a walk-about chat with our students. In the distance, the roar of the CH146 Griffon Helicopter could be heard growing ever closer. With the Hercules still circling to provide communication support, the Griffon joined in on the low-level passes to impress the crowds. Then, ever so gracefully, the helicopter touched down on the track field to pick up the SAR Techs. A few more passes and a final wave of the wings brought this incredible event to a fitting close.

The demonstration was a tremendous opportunity for us all to see the professionalism and precision of 424 Squadron first hand and to gain an appreciation of the serious responsibilities that SAR Techs have in the Canadian Forces. Special thanks to Major Bob Struthers (424 Sqn), Capt Bruce Ehmann (1st Cdn Air Div – Special Events) and to Mr. Chris Wyvill for helping to put together this tremendous event.