Canadian Pilot Lands on Chilean Vessel

Royal Canadian Air Force pilot Captain Dan Simpson poses in front of HMCS Vancouver’s CH-148 Cyclone Helicopter Canuck en route to Hawaii for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. Photo: Sergeant Ghislain Cotton

Lieutenant (Navy) Michelle Scott 
HMCS Vancouver 

Anticipation fills the helicopter air detachment’s briefing room in HMCS Vancouver as Air Detachment Commander Major Peter Tomlik briefs his team on the upcoming flight plan. It’s June 24, and Vancouver is sailing with a number of foreign navies making their way to Hawaii for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022.

The day will be etched into the memory of pilot Captain Dan Simpson. He is about to land Vancouver’s embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on a foreign navy vessel for the first time. But this is not just a first for Captain Simpson, it is also a first for the CH-148 fleet: landing on a Type 23 frigate, the Chilean Navy’s CNS Almirante Lynch.

Four pips sound across the ship’s broadcast – flying stations!

Captain Simpson, from Ladner, B.C., has been flying with the Royal Canadian Air Force for seven years and has previous experience flying as an air cadet. This is also his second deployment on board an Canadian warship with the Cyclone. It was that experience he drew upon to help land on Almirante Lynch.

“There are a lot of differences between the vessels – almost all the references and line-up features are different on foreign vessels. Seeing dozens of faces on the upper decks with cameras and recording devices while landing added a little bit of extra pressure,” he said. “But with a lot of studying the references and a strong pre-flight brief, we were able to do it safely and effectively.”

Once Captain Simpson and crew landed on the Chilean frigate, they were able to get out and meet their counterparts on Almirante Lynch face-to-face and exchange morale patches before taking off and returning to Vancouver.

“It was awesome; it was special to see the smiles and excitement on the faces of the ships’ companies as we landed. I’m still buzzing about it,” said Captain Simpson. “It’s an incredible feeling to put loads of work into something and have it work without a hitch. The professionalism of the Chilean Navy was impressive.”

On Sunday, June 26, as part of the cross-deck evolutions during the group sail, Almirante Lynch’s helicopter landed on the flight deck of HMCS Vancouver. Cross-deck training is conducted to increase interoperability between Maritime Helicopter crews.

HMCS Vancouver and its embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter are participating in RIMPAC in and around the Hawaiian Islands from June 29 to Aug. 4. 

Twenty six nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating. RIMPAC, the world’s largest maritime exercise, provides a unique training opportunity while fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships among participants critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

(From left) Corporals Kyra Brown and Ian Hilton, and Major Peter Tomlik stand beside Chilean Navy frigate helicopter en route to Hawaii for Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. Photo: Sergeant Ghislain Cotton

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