With a background in skydiving (I have about 70 jumps to my credit) I got pretty excited when I saw five skydivers descending near the Yellowknife Airport. There is no drop zone or sport facility in Yellowknife so I was wondering what was going on. I also noted that those jumpers must be pretty skilled as the area is surrounded by lakes. Anyway, Eddie and I drove over to investigate and learned that several RCAF Squadrons and Search and Rescue specialists from across Canada were meeting for their annual training exercise in Yellowknife. I thought that could be an interesting photo essay. I spoke with Capt Matt Zalot about the possibility of me doing a photo story. When I told him I had a background in skydiving and that I was an X Photographer with Fujifilm, well that cinched the deal and I found myself invited onto their VIP/Media flight the next day. We would be flying in a The CH-146 Griffon helicopter with 444 Combat Support Squadron, based out of 5 Wing Goose Bay, NL. The flight would last approximately 45 minutes and they would take us to view the different sites where Search and Rescue personnel were practicing ground searches, medical responses, parachute accuracy, as well as land and marine rescues.
Here are some photo highlights from the afternoon as well as a video. I opted to bring my Fuji XF16-55 F2.8 lens for increased flexibility. Nothing is more irksome than having a good story unfold before your eyes and you can’t capture it because you are sporting a fixed lens.
BEHIND THE SCENES
There were approximately 200 people involved in this event and even had observers from the International Community. Pictured here are the guys from Mexico. I doubt they would be smiling as much if they arrived here in January.
Corporal Yvon Lachapelle explained all the safety procedures for getting onto the Helicopter safely. We would need to wear ear plugs and it is important to approach the helicopter from the front and leave the same way. The pilots and FE (Flight Engineer) always need to maintain a visual of who is approaching the aircraft.
We flew over Yellowknife to visit several locations where the training exercises were underway.
Here is a video I put together.