The RCAF’s 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Valcartier in Quebec, flew three of its CH-146 Griffon helicopters to British Columbia in a C-17 transport plane and have since been training out of Penticton. The squadron’s visit to the Okanagan region is part of their ‘Faucon Alpin’, or Alpine Falcon, exercise.
“It’s an exercise where we practice mountain-flying techniques,” Squadron Lt.-Col. Alex Dubois told Global News. “We like to exercise those type of very fine techniques to land in the mountains because there are very tricky winds when we operate in high altitudes and valleys and high peaks.”
The environment mimics operations in Afghanistan and Iraq
Techniques include overshoots in the nearby Monashee Mountains. In Okanagan, the local environment can closely mimic operations that the Squadron is deployed to, like Afghanistan and Iraq.
“They fly with that company to learn the techniques,” said Dubois. “Then we come here when we can to practice it on our own aircraft.”
For the last couple of weeks, the squadron has been flying missions from Penticton to Kelowna and as far north as Revelstoke.
Flying at high altitudes can come with its own set of problems. Last year, AirMed&Rescue spoke to experts taking on the ultimate challenge for rescue crews – rescue at high altitude, where aircraft and crew are pushed to the limit.