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

Just Posted

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Robbery with a hammer at Invermere Dairy Queen

Robber makes off with undisclosed amount of cash.

Talking valley politics

Local politicians offered an update on their communities and progess.

Who should own James Chabot park?

Invermere asks for James Chabot park back from province

January precipitation deepens snowpack in B.C.’s mountains

Most of the province now has higher-than-normal snowpack levels

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, so barricades should come down

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

New Jamie Bacon trial for counselling to commit murder charge set for March 3

The trial is set to start on March 3 at B.C. Supreme Court

Federal minister pledges to meet Wet’suwet’en chiefs in B.C. over natural gas pipeline

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they are visiting Mohawk territory

2010 leader John Furlong urges Vancouver to bid for 2030 Winter Games

VANOC said the 2010 games broke even financially

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Canadians aboard coronavirus-ridden cruise ship to return home tonight

Among the infected are 47 Canadians who will have to remain in Japan for treatment

Galchenyuk nets shootout winner as Wild edge Canucks 4-3

Vancouver tied with Calgary for second spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

Most Read