The Royal Canadian Air Force will retire its fleet of CH-124 Sea King helicopters after 55 years in use. (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)

Royal Canadian Air Force retires CH-124 Sea King helicopters

Fleet will be replaced with CH-148 Cyclone aircraft at 443 Squadron near Victoria

Against a perfectly blue sky day on a sunny late fall morning, the Royal Canadian Air Force revved up the engines on three CH-124 Sea King helicopters to take flight on one of their last journeys before they officially retire next month.

In 1963, the Air Force purchased a fleet of 41 and of those, 28 remain today.

“It’s bittersweet,” says Jason Miller, an aircraft technician who worked with the fleet for nearly 20 years. “This is the longest serving aircraft that the Canadian Armed Forces has.”

RELATED: New navy helicopter arrives at Sidney base

Miller estimates he has worked on each of the remaining 28 aircraft over the course of his career and they have taken him on deployments all over the world.

He likens them to an old pickup truck – solid, heavy duty, rugged aircraft – in the way they have stood the test of time.

“We’ve gone across the Atlantic in hurricanes bouncing off the back of the ship,” he recalls. “So, the new aircarft has some pretty big boots to fill.”

All over the world, this model of aircraft is retiring because parts are difficult to come by, Miller says. “Nobody’s making parts for them anymore.”

Miller points out aircraft of any kind only have a finite lifespan and while the Sea King’s have been refurbished over the years — including structural and mechanical upgrades — it is time to ground them permanently.

The fleet will be replaced with new state-of-the-art CH-148 Cyclone aircraft, which arrived at 443 Squadron in Patricia Bay, back in August.

At the height of operation, the Sea King fleet was split between coasts serving the Vancouver Island base as well as three air squadrons in Halifax.

Upon retirement, some will be offered for sale and others will find new homes in military museums.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kootenay SPCA hopes you’ll have a heart for Cupid

Cat who tangled with a bobcat seeking a permanent home

New ‘hub’ model takes regional approach to doctor recruitment in West Kootenay

Kootenay-Boundary a provincial leader in effectively attracting doctors to work here

Painting Ourselves Visible group to create mural

A new partnership between Kootenay Gallery of Art and Castlegar Pride

Castlegar Skating Club prepares for regional championships

Watch local skaters on March 11 at 4:30 p.m.

Castlegar council develops policy for question period

Questions must pertain to current agenda items and issues or items of interest to the general public

VIDEO: Behind the scenes of turning newspapers into digital archives

Kelowna Capital News donated materials dating from 1980 to 2000

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Most Read