The Global BC news crew will be at CFB Comox Tuesday for a live, outdoor taping of the News Hour.
Anchor Chris Gailus will present a story about 442 Squadron Search and Rescue Techs and the recent rescue following a float plane crash in Nootka Sound.
Gailus received an inside look at the challenges of the job during a training session on the Oyster River. It was his first ride in a Cormorant helicopter, where he experienced firsthand its power and manoeuvrability.
“And then to see how a six-man team is a finely-tuned machine,” he said, recalling the precision of landing in the river bottom with just 10 metres between the rotor tips and the trees. “They dropped it in there just like it was nothing. It takes a team effort. The pilots are amazing. You have to have spotters on every corner to make sure the chopper is coming down in a safe area.”
Hovering at 500 feet, Gailus was impressed how the team managed to drop into a small triangular sandbar in the river.
“The downdraft from that helicopter is so powerful it turned the river to foam,” said Gailus, who was lowered out from about 50 feet on a winch from the hoist. He had a camera mounted on his helmet. “All I could do was look up at this most amazing sight above me, and I never looked down to see how close the ground was getting.”
He wound up “pancaked” at the river bottom.
“It was kind of a funny moment where I just landed right on my butt.”
A second camera and reporter, Kylie Stanton, accompanied some members on a training session involving high-altitude jumps from a Buffalo.
“It was really cool to see how the Buffalo can hit the target when they jump out of the back of that thing,” Gailus said.
Many of the skills came into play in the Aug. 16 rescue in Nootka Sound on the West Coast of the Island. Despite a 400-foot cloud ceiling and drizzle, Gailus said the SAR Techs could still spot the wreckage and drop down.
“They had two seriously injured survivors in that wreckage. To provide comfort to them and then get them to hospital in a heartbeat was quite a story.”
Another story in Tuesday’s newscast will highlight a “paleontologists dream” in the Courtenay area, which Gailus said has become a “gateway to the great Canadian fossil trail.”
Gailus, along with sports anchor Squire Barnes and meteorologist Kristi Gordon, hosts the News Hour from five Island communities beginning Monday in Port Hardy. The crew is in Parksville Wednesday, Duncan Thursday and Tofino Friday.
Gordon has brought back the popular junior meteorologist contest for children under 12. The winner helps her deliver the weather broadcast live on air. A local child has been selected.
Global BC has encouraged families of those with clearance to watch the broadcast live in the hangar. There will also be a remote location off-base at the Air Force Museum where the public can watch the show after the cast.
Tuesday’s newscast airs from 6 to7p.m.