Friday, May 18, 2012
Some of you may have noticed the photo of the Chinook Helicopter at the top of this page. That photo was taken at a small gravel airstrip on Ellesmere Island called Eureka in the high Arctic. I had the pleasure of spending three summers there during the 1980’s flying as a Loadmaster on board the Chinooks of 450 Transport Helicopter Squadron.
In 1996 Canada retired its Chinooks and sold them to the Royal Netherlands Air Force where they continue to soldier on and fly today. In fact until we bought our own, Dutch Chinooks actually carried Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan…..kind of ironic!
Canada disbanded 450 Squadron and went without heavy lift helicopters until 2005 when we purchased several ‘second hand’ Chinook airframes from the US Army, and used them with great success in Afghanistan. They filled a need, and probably saved the lives of numerous Canadian soldiers who could now fly safely into camps and the out-stations instead of driving in vehicles on the IED infested dirt roads.
I’m also extremely pleased, and proud, that LCol Duart Townsend will be the first Commanding Officer of the reborn 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. LCol Townsend was the very last Chinook pilot to be trained as part of the original 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron before it was disbanded in 1996. We veterans of the original Squadron can rest assured that our customs and traditions will be passed on to the new Squadron by the new Commanding Officer.
For those ex-members of 450 Squadron, today’s announcement is a great thing. It ensures that the history we made in our youth will not be forgotten. To the ex-members it also means that the aircrew, and support crew, who died in the flying accidents aboard Chinook’s 147001 and 147002 will be remembered and honoured by the Squadron, and not just by those who remember them.
May the new 450 Squadron only have 'Fair Winds and Blue Skies'!
By Air To Battle!