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

Hospital’s Chief of Staff asks for vigilance

Doctor stresses vigilance and compliance to guidelines to mitigate future surge in COVID-19 cases

Alone together

How local families are coping during COVID-19

Checking in

Pioneer staff hope you’re doing okay. Here’s a message from the editor.

Invermere campus shares medical supplies

Invermere College of the Rockies campus shares supplies with healthcare workers

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Interior Health confirms five additional cases in Okanagan COVID-19 outbreak

The total amount of confirmed cases at Bylands Nurseries Ltd. is 19; no further cases expected

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

ANKORS East Kootenay details concerns surrounding harm reduction amid COVID-19

Harm reduction providers are having to keep up with rapidly changing situation

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Most Read