While in Vancouver, BC, I had the chance encounter of meeting Sergeant Christian Morrissette with the Search and Rescue division of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
At the time he was hosting an event to help Canadians better understand his line of work. So, never being one to shy away, I approached him to say hi. In the process I also extended my hand to shake his, so that I could thank him for his valued services, which I had never needed but deeply respected. After chatting with him for a good ten minutes, and hearing all about the bones he had broken over the years to help people in need, it was clear to me that Sergeant Morrissette was an amazingly thoughtful person who was destined to be a rescuer. I later learned that he and his team won a prestigious award for saving a mountain climber in an awfully bad predicament. Lest we forget, our Canadian Armed Forces are not only there for us during times of war and conflict, but also and evermore increasingly during times of peace.
So, with a big smile I said sign me up, and within a minute I was jumping into some search and rescue gear to get a better sense of it all. Now, on the best of days the camera gear on my back and slung around my shoulders and in my hands often clocks in somewhere between 20 and 35 pounds (depending on the tripods I'm using), so I’d say I’m accustomed to packing in and out a lot of weight. But this experience was totally shocking, and I have an even greater amount of respect for these guys now that I know firsthand the toil they go through to make it all happen. The SAR gear I was wearing was crazy heavy and awkward on my balance, and I recall wondering how anyone could rappel from a helicopter with all that gear strapped on. It was an awesome experience from 2014, and one that I still remember.
If you would like to learn more about SAR and its work, click here. I've yet to have the pleasure of photographing any SAR vehicles, but I understand they use the CH-149 Cormorant and CH-146 Griffon helicopters as their primary rotary-wing aircraft and the CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules as their primary fixed-wing aircraft.