chopper5adjCoast Guard flotillas around the country train with helicopers every year. Usually they are rescue chopper services like the Energex and Westpac helicopters. But QF8 Townsville recently added a fresh training partner, the Canadian Helicopter Company, reports David Ede. Based at Amberley Air Force Base near Ipswich in SE Queensland, the Canadian Helicopter Company is contracted to provide emergency recovery services should an RAAF F18 or F16 go down or one of their pilots are ejected from one of their aircraft. On this occasion the CHC crew were based in Townsville while the RAAF did its local training exercises.

QF8 was asked to assist in training two helicopter pilots in over water procedures. The flotilla usually does its training with Emergency Management Queensland helicopters so the opportunity to train with the RAAF support helicopter was both novel and a great opportunity to give budding skippers an opportunity to experience what it is like to participate in a helicopter exercise.

Offshore Skipper Richard Boulton and five other QF8 crew participated in the 47-foot rescue vessel Rotary Rescue under the control of the Canadian Helicopter Company's Commanding Officer Brad Handley.

Communication channels were agreed on VHF 73 and VHF 22 with call signs ìChopper 3î and ìRotary Rescueî while compass courses to steer were agreed as well as an agreed speed into the wind.

The training exercise was held between Bay Rock Islet and Five Beach Bay on Magnetic Island. The total training exercise lasted just under one hour with five processes covered on four cycles.

These processes included dropping a small sand bag to the back deck of Rotary Rescue, receiving one of their crew on the back deck of Rotary Rescue, dropping a weighted line to the back of Rotary Rescue, dropping a bag of first aid equipment and then returning all lines, equipment and personnel in a set sequence back to the CHC helicopter.

As soon as this exercise was over Rotary Rescue was called away to rescue of a 2- foot vessel that had broken down at Herald Island some 8 nautical miles west of the training site. Rotary Rescue returned back to itís pontoon at 1900. It all went smoothly and Brad Handley has invited QF8 to participate in further training when the CHC Chopper 3 returns to Townsville next time.