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

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: It’s Island’s turn for investment in light rail

Convert rail right-of-way to a double-tracked light rail system, says letter writer

Nanaimo RCMP community policing needs a few good volunteers

Volunteers needed to help Nanaimo RCMP and city deliver crime prevention and safety programs

RDN signs deal with Nanaimo Recycling Exchange to conduct waste audits

RDN working on mandatory waste-separation bylaw for industrial, commercial, institutional sectors

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to Nanaimo

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Conservation officers free fawn stuck in fence in Nanaimo

Fawn was uninjured after getting caught in fence in Hammond Bay area Wednesday

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Long-term care need pressuring acute care in Comox Valley, Strathcona

Region could use a couple of large facilities for seniors on the north part of the Island

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Most Read