Tag Archives: CH-149

Into the action with photographer Albert Law

On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013 (Image © Albert Law)
On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013
(Image © Albert Law)

As AIRheads↑Fly we are graced by the often many excellent press images put at our disposal. Publishing them is an almost automatic process, meaning we seldom get to talk with the men and women who have been right there, carrying whatever camera they have into the heart of the action. But for our brief focus on a Canadian rescue exercise that has changed.

Albert Law is a lifestyle & documentary photographer, an art director and a designer. More often than not the Vancouver, British Colombia native finds himself in the middle of the action, which can be anything from a surfboard manufacturing shop, to gorgeous artists “caught” in nature to a tough Quick Reaction Force hoovering into an area of operations.

Embedded with the Royal Canadian Air Force on a search and rescue exercise, Law made a series of pictures for the RCAF that included the one featuring our AIRheads↑Fly article From Canada: Men on a wire. AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger popped a few questions to Albert Law.

On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013 (Image © Albert Law)
On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013
(Image © Albert Law)

AHF: How do you manage to stay focused when you’re right in the middle of everything, with choppers taking off and troops running around?
Albert Law: “It can be challenging sometimes in these types on environments because my priority is to not interfere with what’s going on. So I’m constantly looking over my shoulder and scanning the space around me to make sure I don’t get in the way. A lot of times I find myself shooting using the LCD screen on the back of the camera instead of focussing through the eye piece – to avoid tunnel vision.”

AHF: Have aircraft and helicopters a special place in your heart when it comes to your photography?
Albert Law: “They are just a part of what I do as a documentary photographer. I had a large interest in aircraft when I was younger. I built a lot of toy model airplanes, but I never got around to getting my pilot’s licence or learning to fly. I definitely like flying and appreciate every opportunity I get, so in that sense I’m very lucky that my job pays me to do this.”

AHF: Does aviation photography give you extra difficulties, compared to the other work you do?
Albert Law: “When it comes to aviation photography the challenge is mainly working in small or confined spaces, which doesn’t leave much room to move or use lenses that aren’t wide angle.”

On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013 (Image © Albert Law)
On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013
(Image © Albert Law)

AHF: You’ve done many assignments, which one sticks more to the mind?
Albert Law: “One of the the more interesting experiences has been just that story with the Canadian search and rescue unit. I spent two days with the team doing a lot of different things, including being lowered by cable to the ground while the helicopter was hovering 60ft above the ground.”

AHF: What can we expect from you next?
Albert Law: “My next photography projects are mainly a continuation of what I’ve been doing the past few months. I will be doing more photo assignments with the military, and on the personal side of things for myself I will be doing photo stories on people I find interesting. They are usually other artists, craftsmen and musicians.”

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

Enjoy so much more of Albert Law’s great photo work at www.albertlaw.ca

On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013 (Image © Albert Law)
On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013
(Image © Albert Law)
On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013 (Image © Albert Law)
On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013
(Image © Albert Law)
On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013 (Image © Albert Law)
On assignment with the Royal Canadian Air Force CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter during SAREX 2013
(Image © Albert Law)

From Canada: Men on a wire

Search and rescue technicians from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron are hoisted into a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter during a search and rescue exercise in Chilliwack, British Colombia, on February 27, 2014. (Image © Bombardier Albert Law)
Search and rescue technicians from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron are hoisted into a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter during a search and rescue exercise in Chilliwack, British Colombia, on 27 February 2014
(Image © Bombardier Albert Law)

Frankly meant just to share a fun picture of an essential service of the Royal Canadian Air Force, we at AIRheads↑Fly would like to bring your attention the recent joint military/civilian rescue exercise (SAREX) in Abbotsford, British Columbia, held from 25 to 28 February 2014.

As Rear-Admiral William Truelove, Victoria Search and Rescue Region commander and the commander of Joint Task Force Pacific, puts it strikingly: “Collective search and rescue efforts between the Canadian Armed Forces, other government departments and volunteer organizations help promote education and training, which is fundamental to saving lives.” Amen to that!

The 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 19 Wing Comox provided CH-149 Cormorant helicopters and CC-115 Buffalo aircraft, serviced and flown by more than 70 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). They were joined by 35 members of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) in Abbotsford, that provided aircraft and assistance – including in the role of spotter onboard a searching aircraft. Aircrews practiced homing in on emergency locator beacons, parachuting to crash scenes and evacuating patients from remote areas. The team practiced their collective ability to respond to a plane crash.

Hope and Chilliwack areas of the Lower Mainland were used to conduct the exercise. The SAR assets were guided by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre for the Victoria Search and Rescue Region (SRR). This SRR includes a astonishing 920,000 square kilometres (571,783 sqm) of mainly mountainous terrain in British Columbia and the Yukon, extending approximately 600 nautical miles offshore into the Pacific Ocean.

JRCC Victoria is one of three JRCCs in Canada operated by the Canadian Armed Forces in conjunction with the Canadian Coast Guard. The others are in Trenton (Ontario) and Halifax (Nova Scotia). Theyr are manned 24/7 by Canadian Forces and Canadian Coast Guard personnel.

Source: RCAF

Canada mad at Sikorsky, might choose Merlins over Cyclones

The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater, Canada at May 13, 2011, to support training of Canadian Forces aircrew and technicians for the Maritime Helicopter Project. (Image © RCAF/Sikorsky)
The first interim maritime helicopter, the CH-148 Cyclone, arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater, Canada on May 13, 2011, to support training of Canadian Forces aircrew and technicians for the Maritime Helicopter Project. (Image © RCAF/Sikorsky)

The Canadian government is furious at American helicopter builder Sikorsky for continuously not delivering the purchased and promised 28 CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters. The Canadians now sent a team of experts to the UK to check out the Royal Navy’s new Agusta Westland AW101 Merlin Mk2s.

The political and technical storm around the Cyclone helicopters has now reached such a point that Sikorsky might face a cancellation of the project by the Canadians all together, despite already paid damages for the years of delay and problems with the new CH-148s. The Royal Canadian Air Force needs the new helicopters by yesterday, to replace beautiful but dinosaur Sikorsky CH-124 Sea Kings in service since 1963.

The Royal Canadian Navy currently faces the lack of a modern air asset that can enlarge the range and effectiveness of the fleet with military, UN or disaster-relief operations. The Cyclones, flown by the Air Force on behalf of the Navy, are destined to execute anti-submarine warfare (ASW), surveillance and search and rescue missions from the Canadian vessels. The old Sea Kings don’t meet current standards and show fatigue after decades of service.

Problems with the engines, with the mission gear and loads of other more minor issues have resulted in not a single CH-148 planned to be introduced in 2008 is currently in effective active service. There is a pre-version CH-148 for training purposes only, but that is about it.

The Cyclones are based on the Sikorsky S-92. Therefore the problems the Canadians are facing, seem to be more bad news for the US presidential helicopter project as well. The Pentagon wants a further developed version of the S-92 as the new POTUS ride.

A drop of the CH-148 and selection of the AW101 Merlin instead would be kind of special. In 1990 the Canadians ordered 50 EH101s on which the Merlins are based, but the deal was cancelled directly after elections by the then new government.

After initial problems with the Merlins in the UK, the Royal Navy now seems really happy with the new Mk2s. The Merlin option would make maintenance for the Canadians also easier, since the RCAF already flies 15 AW101 based CH-149 Cormorants bright yellow SAR helicopters.

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

1* Meet the new old US presidential ride

What do you do when you are responsible for the transport of the president of the United States, you just like this certain new flashy chopper, but crap what a nasty tender rules you have to respect? Then you just write the paperwork in a way that only your little bladed treasure will make it to within the fences of your beautiful mansion estate.

Now you have a garden party to look forward to. Write Meet my old new friend on your invitation card and whoops there it is: the old new Sikorsky presidential helicopter on the White House lawn.

The head-of-state of the world’s most powerful democracy and the unfortunate drowning man off the Irish Coast will in a few years share the same experience. Both will be ferried through the air by the VH-92 Superhawk helicopter.

As far as we know the Irish Republic had a proper competitive shopping run first, but it’s a whole different story on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The always freshly washed, shiny green-and-white presidential ride will not change brand nor colour. All due to clever clerks, some admirable lobby work by Sikorsky fans and quite likely a great deal of ol’ boys network politics by the Pentagon. The S-team outsmarted not only the house keepers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, but scared off the competition as well.

,,After a comprehensive analysis of the final request of proposal, we determined that we were unable to compete effectively given the current requirements and the evaluation methodology defined in the document”, stated the spokesperson of AgustaWestland. The European company was earlier poised to offer its VH101 Merlin in co-operation with American Northrop Grumman.

The full-American Bell and Boeing companies dropped out too stating ,,problems with the structure of the competitive program”. No VH-47 Chinook or presidential VV-22 Osprey. The only remaining bidder: Sikorsky with the VH-92 Superhawk.

But what happened to the earlier star of the presidential helicopter show: the Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel helicopter based on the AW101 that already seemed to have won the show to replace the ageing VH-3D Sea King? It was shot down by the Pentagon despite the White House commitment in 2009 to produce five operational VH-71As, making Lockheed Martin change sides to the Sikorsky team.

Litterly bits and pieces of the once future US commander-in-chief VH-71 helicopter fleet are now in use by the Royal Canadian Air Force, where they help maintaining the RCAF’s 15 CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopters. The US presidential spare parts are now to protect and to serve the unfortunate drowning man off the Canadian coast.

© 2013 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

The Sikorsky S-92 Superhawk of the Garda Cósta na hÉireann (Image © Irish Coast Guard)
The Sikorsky S-92 Superhawk of the Garda Cósta na hÉireann (Image © Irish Coast Guard)