Military chopper makes rare visit to Brandon
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Brandon residents had a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with a Royal Canadian Air Force Cyclone helicopter Thursday morning after the military aircraft landed in the Wheat City.
The stopover in Brandon was part of a cross-country tour, as members of the 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron fly the chopper from the force’s East Coast base to its Pacific coast base in Esquimalt, B.C.
The helicopter, hosted by the Brandon Flight Centre, was on a static display on the tarmac Thursday, while RCAF members gave tours of the aircraft and answered questions from the public and aircraft enthusiasts.
“Travelling the country is a great opportunity to engage with different groups,” Capt. Alex Manderson, an RCAF air combat systems officer, told the Sun.
Manderson said in the coastal communities near where the Air Force has bases — Halifax and Victoria — military aircraft and RCAF members are seen frequently by the public. But the rest of the country, he said, doesn’t often get a chance to see the aircraft and learn about the Air Force’s work.
“These types of transfers also provide us with the opportunity to engage with Canadians on a personal level while also showcasing the CH-148 Cyclone aircraft to residents in regions where the aircraft does not normally operate,” a National Defence press release stated.
The Cyclone, a ship-based aircraft, is not a common sight in the Prairies.
“It’s great to show it off, give people a chance to check it out, ask questions and learn a bit about what we do and what Canadians in the Air Force are doing for them, maybe not in their backyard, but on their behalf elsewhere,” Manderson said.
The aircraft left the East Coast on April 30 and has made numerous stops as part of the RCAF community outreach visits across Quebec and Ontario at high schools, airports, flying clubs and universities, including the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.
“The students loved it,” said Manderson, an RMC alumnus. “It’s motivation for them to show them what the future is after they finish their training in the Navy or the Air Force.”
The Cyclone is Canada’s main ship-borne maritime helicopter, which is used for above-water and below-water surveillance, tactical transport, and search-and-rescue missions, pilot Maj. Antonio Gomez told the Sun.
The helicopter can also respond to a humanitarian mission by transforming the fuselage of the plane into a “flying pickup truck” with 21 seats for evacuating people or delivering supplies, he said.
To have the chopper fit onto a ship, the rotor blades can be folded and well as the tail.
The chopper normally carries torpedoes on the sides of the body, but Manderson said the weapons were shipped separately to reduce the chopper’s weight for the cross-country tour.
The squadron has plans to stop in Winnipeg and Portage la Prairie, before continuing west to a stop in Moose Jaw, Sask.
» Twitter: @geena_mortfield