Royal Canadian Air Force helicopters have been flying high above the Okanagan Valley since the middle of March.
The RCAF’s 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Valcartier, Que., flew three of its CH-146 Griffon helicopters to B.C. in a C-17 transport plane and has been training out of Penticton.
The squadron’s visit to the Okanagan is all part of their ‘Faucon Alpin’ or Alpine Falcon exercise.
Techniques including overshoots in the nearby Monashee Mountains. That’s where a pilot flies low over a landing zone briefly to assess wind direction before attempting a landing.
As to why the Okanagan, it’s because the local environment can closely mimic theatres of operations that the Squadron is deployed to, like Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The Okanagan is actually one of the places of choice in North America,” said Dubois, noting the RCAF performs mountain helicopter training in the Okanagan, almost annually.
So much so that the RCAF actually sends its helicopter pilots to an elite, four-week mountain flying course with Canadian Helicopters’ Topflight training based out of Penticton.
On Thursday, the squadron landed at Kelowna International Airport to begin the task of dismantling the three Griffon helicopters they brought with them.