Canadian aviators


Two Canadian Aviators fly with the SNMG2 Command Staff


Air Detachment
HMCS Winnipeg

Two members of HMCS Winnipeg’s Helicopter Air Detachment (HelAirDet) took part in a unique opportunity this past summer on board the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) flagship, Federal German Ship (FGS) Hamburg while operating in support of Operation Reassurance.
During the SNMG2 assembly in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the task group’s Chief of Staff was looking for a helicopter
element coordinator. A person in this position tasks and schedules all of the task group’s helicopter operations while balancing
maintenance and crew requirements.  The Canadian tactical coordinators from Winnipeg’s HelAirDet
“Over the following few days we changed our mentality from being helicopter operators to members of the SNMG2 staff. Using our experience as operations officers, we jumped into preparations to ensure that we were prepared to successfully manage five helicopters from four nations,” said the first pilot.
The decision was made to have one Helicopter Element Coordinator remain onboard FGS Hamburg while the other pilot assumed all flying duties on Winnipeg. The duties switched after two weeks.
“Surprisingly, task group coordination was very similar to a basic helicopter start; setup your lines of communication, check everyone’s equipment, and brief the plan. Next, you acquire all the information about each nation’s helicopter equipment. Finally, give the plan to the professional air crews in a timely fashion so they can highlight or resolve any possible conflicts before they become showstoppers,” added the second pilot.  
As helicopter element coordinators, the pilots coordinated a multitude of operational and exercise flight missions including a medical evacuation, multiple anti-submarine exercises and an emergency response.  Both pilots quickly developed the skill of discerning which information was crucial to the Admiral and which was not.
The Canadian tactical coordinators each received an overwhelming welcome from their German hosts and would receive morning greetings in Bulgarian, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Turkish, from the multinational staff. To say thank you to their German hosts, one of the Canadian pilots cooked breakfast for all of the officers on board Hamburg. French toast with Canadian maple syrup (delivered by helicopter) was a huge hit, and a sweet note on which to part company.
Op Reassurance provides unique training activities such as this provides an excellent opportunity to develop their skills and enhances their ability to operate with our NATO Allies while building cohesion within the Alliance.

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