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AgustaWestland Congratulates Royal Canadian Air Force Helicopter SAR Crew for Winning International Award

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica Company, extends congratulations to the members of Royal Canadian Air Force 442 Squadron at CFB Comox, on winning the SAR Award for Operational Rescue Excellence at the 2012 Shephard’s Search and Rescue Conference in Dublin.

"The crew of Royal Canadian Air Force Cormorant, call sign “Rescue 907” of 442 Squadron were the clear choice of the judges for this year’s SAR Award for Operational Rescue Excellence,” said Alex Giles, CEO of U.K.-based Shephard Media. “Their rescue of an injured hiker from Hat Mountain, B.C., at night and in the most demanding of weather conditions, displayed exceptional flying skill, crew coordination and personal bravery.”

On hand to receive congratulations and the rescue award were Aircraft Commander Capt. Jean Leroux stationed at CFB Comox and SARTech Sgt. George Olynyk, who is now stationed at CFB Gander.  They were presented with the award by Chris Reynolds, Director General of the Irish Coast Guard, the host organization for the conference. The other members of the crew who were honoured by the awards are Maj. Troy Maa, First Officer; Sgt Carl Schouten, Flight Engineer; and search and rescue technician (SARTech) Master Cpl Nicholas Nissen.

“For that mission we had all the complicated elements, high winds, icing, severe down flow, at night, high altitude and low visibility, but we had the right crew and the best machine to do the job - I pushed my crew to the maximum, but we pushed also the (Cormorant) to the maximum and neither let us down,” said Capt. Leroux at the award ceremony. “That night we had a bit of time on the long return transit to talk about the mission, and we all said that we hoped we’d never have to do that again.”

The crew was dispatched on the night of December 23, 2010 to rescue a 23-year-old man who was stranded on a steep side of Hat Mountain in Cypress Provincial Park, B.C. The Cormorant crew were racing against time, with powerful winter storm approaching. The stranded hiker was located at 1,600 metres up the mountain, 150 metres into dense clouds, in a narrow and steep bowl. As the crew approached in their AW101 “Cormorant” helicopter, they were battered by the turbulence of 85 kph wind gusts blowing straight down the mountain.

This is the second rescue award for the crew. They were presented the 2011 Cormorant Trophy in November in a ceremony at CFB Comox in the presence of Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk and base commander Col. Jim Benninger.

“This crew is fully deserving of the national and international recognition for this extremely difficult rescue,” said AgustaWestland Canada Head of Region Jeremy Tracy. “It is also rewarding to us that Canada’s brave search and rescue crews put their faith in the capabilities of the Cormorant so they can confidently focus on their primary task of saving Canadian lives.”

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