Story & Photos
by Dan Davidson
The yellow CC-115 Buffalo aircraft circled above the Yukon River half a dozen times before the two parachutists bailed out and their orange chutes bloomed, looking a lot like the paraglider wings that often slide across the Dawson skies in the summer.
This, however, was April 12, and the military men gliding to a landing just a few hundred feet off the ice bridge were dressed in full Arctic Gear.
“For us this is a normal weekend of SAR (Search and Rescue) training,” said Master Corporal Guitard from 442 Squadron in Comox, B.C. “We’re in Whitehorse for the weekend and we came up here just for a normal SAR training.”
“This is a nice surprise for us,” said Ranger Sergeant John Mitchell. “We just got a call about 12 (noon) that it was happening, so it was very realistic for us to respond and throw things together.”
Mitchell’s part was posting a flag near the drop zone and standing by with a radio to give instructions as needed.
“Our area of operations is very large,” said Guitard, “so it’s good for us to come up here once in a while and operate in these conditions. As you can see I’m dressed for the Arctic here. If we always train where it’s nice and calm and we don’t come where it’s nice and cold, we don’t get that experience.”
It was sunny and about -10 C° out on the ice bridge, but there was a chilly breeze and the Buffalo made a number of passes at various heights as well as dropping some streamers to gauge wind direction before Guitard and his partner, Master Warrant Officer Jean Tremblay, took to the air.
The military visitors were heading back to Whitehorse at the conclusion of the operation.