Commanding Officer takes flight for Operation Pegasus Jump

Master Sailor Jennifer MacKinnon demonstrates to Commander Cameron Miller, Commanding Officer of HMCS Malahat, the proper climb out procedure at the Campbell River Skydiving Centre during Operation Pegasus Jump. Photo supplied.

Cdr Cameron Miller, 
CO, HMCS Malahat 

MS Jennifer MacKinnon, 
Recruiter, HMCS Malahat

Fitted with jumpsuits and safety gear, members of HMCS Malahat, Victoria’s Naval Reserve Division, plunged 3,500 feet from a Cessna 182 aircraft during a summer skydiving camp.

Commander (Cdr) Cameron Miller, Malahat’s Commanding Officer, said the experience provided opportunities for participants to share more about themselves in a safe environment.

“It was this feeling of safety that allowed some people to begin to open up and unpack some of the things they may have been holding inside,” he said.

Known as Operation Pegasus Jump, the skydiving camp is designed to create an environment where injured military members and First Responders have the opportunity to build strong relationships with each other and challenging them to let go of their fears through skydiving.

Run out of the only veteran-owned drop zone in Canada, Campbell River Skydive Centre in Campbell River, B.C., the program is hosted by Sergeant (Retired) Rob McNeill, a former Canadian Airborne Regiment member, and Master Warrant Officer (Retired) Bob Verret, a former Search and Rescue Technician.

“I think we can all agree there are many ways ‘we’ as a collective CAF family can assist those who need to take a knee and unpack things they are holding in from serving, sometimes unknowingly,” Cdr Miller said.

Master Sailor (MS) Jennifer MacKinnon, another Malahat member and one of the volunteers for the Centre, who is also a certified Jumpmaster, described the environment as non-judgemental.

“I was thrilled by how many people opened up, not only to myself and to other staff, but to fellow jumpers,” MS MacKinnon said.

Whether through providence or coincidence, MS MacKinnon was assigned as Cdr Miller’s Jumpmaster, leading MS MacKinnon to jokingly recall her thoughts, as she was ‘looking forward to throwing the CO out of the plane’.

Once they reached the jumping altitude, Cdr. Miller recalls the difficult moment of realizing he was about to jump out of a plane.

“Seeing someone fly by the window of a plane is simply not normal,” he said.

Cdr Miller was part of three groups of 95 jumpers.

“I executed a textbook launch from the plane, but quickly ended up on my back in the air,” he said. “But I went through my drills, straightening up, and eventually floating down after the parachute opened.”

Sergeant (Retired) Rob McNeill found himself visibly moved by the 10-day event.

“Operation Pegasus Jump exceeded all expectations we had. Seeing people move forward and open up was very rewarding…it means so much to me and Bob (Verret) to be able to help our fellow CAF veterans.”

Cdr Miller and all the participants wish to extend a big thanks to the staff and volunteers at Campbell River Skydive Centre for all they did to arrange this, especially the owners – Nicole, Rob, and Bob. The team at the Centre plans to review the overall event and build on its success, looking to rerun it next summer.

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