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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In this photo illustration, a provincial election mail-in ballot sealed in an Elections B.C. return envelope is seen before being deposited in a Canada Post mailbox, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. The final result of British Columbia’s provincial election won’t be known for at least two weeks because more than 700-thousand mail-in ballots have to be counted by hand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Mail-in ballots flowing into electoral offices

More than 4,000 received for Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding so far

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions, centre, and councillor Deb Haggard speak with Graham Hughes and others at a protest in front of the Port Alberni Shelter (Our Home on Eighth). Hughes and supporters have been at the shelter since Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
City of Port Alberni calls for investigation into shelter allegations

Former provincial election candidate organized protest in front of PA Shelter

A monument was unveiled during a ceremony in Tofino last week honouring Jo-Ann Fuller and Ivan Polivka. The monument will be placed on Hwy. 4 near Kennedy Lake. (Photo courtesy of Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC)
Somber ceremony held in Tofino to mark 10th anniversary of fatal ambulance crash

Beloved paramedics Jo-Ann Fuller and Ivan Polivka died in a tragic ambulance crash on Hwy. 4.

New Bulldogs forward Oak MacLeod fires a shot on the Grizzlies’ goal during the first period of a preseason game at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Tuesday, Oct. 27. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: New guys get game winner for Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Alberni records a 5-4 overtime win against the Victoria Grizzlies

From left to right: Mark Walter, BJ Gillis, Kyle Munro and Danny Gillis of the Alberni Valley Disc Golf Club stand beside a disc golf basket at Dry Creek Park. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Disc golf expands to Port Alberni’s Dry Creek Park

New 18-hole course will be ready to play by spring of 2021

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

Police hope the public can help find Hailey St. Claire who has been missing since Tuesday. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo woman reported missing, police asking for public’s help

Hailey St. Claire, 28, was reported missing Tuesday

Most Read