It’s a day that many Kentville-area students – and the town’s mayor – won’t soon forget.
KCA School was the recipient of a special visit on June 12. A search and rescue Cormorant helicopter and its crew from 14 Wing Greenwood’s 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron landed on the soccer field on the west side of the school at noon.
Grade 6 student Sarah Suffron of Kentville said they had heard from their teacher the day before that they would be welcoming the visitors. She said students were excited to be given the opportunity.
Suffron said she has seen similar search and rescue helicopters in the air when she’s been close to the water before but had never seen one so close. She was among the students who got to sit in the cockpit and have the pilot, First Officer Pierre Hery, explain some of the controls.
“I thought it was really cool,” Suffron said. “There was like a lot of buttons, so I didn’t want to touch anything just in case.”
Principal Victoria Laurence said most students only found out about the visit that morning. The energy level in the school was high and the children were extremely excited.
“We just had our P to 2’s in the cafeteria for lunchtime and we couldn’t get the noise level down, but that’s okay because this is a novel experience for them and we just wanted them to have fun,” Laurence said shortly after the helicopter touched down.
She said they’ve been fielding calls from other schools wondering how they could arrange a visit from the Cormorant and crew. Laurence said the KCA community is honoured to be the recipient. It’s Pride Week at the school, so it fit in well with all the other celebrations going on.
Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow is also Honorary Colonel of 415 Maritime Patrol Force Development Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood. She accompanied the crew on the flight to KCA and was beaming as she exited the craft.
“This is total happy dance day, honestly, they let me fly in on the tail with my legs hanging off of it, so it doesn’t get any better than that,” Snow said.
She delivered the line “I’m queen of the world” flying in on the tail, because that’s how the experience made her feel. Snow said seeing the town from such a unique perspective was amazing. They circled the school before landing, as Snow waved to the students and staff.
Snow, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force for two decades, said she always worked with fixed-wing aircraft and had never been in a Cormorant before.
“When I grow up, I want to be a helicopter pilot,” she said.
Snow said the visit to the school was a great example of community outreach. Since the Cormorant and crew are involved in search and rescue activities, they don’t have many opportunities to do this sort of thing.
“When they have the opportunity, they will be there for whoever wants to see them,” Snow said. “If just one of these kids decides to be a member of the Canadian Air Force, that would be absolutely wonderful.”
Snow went on to two more careers after her 20 years of service and said a lot of opportunities can come from being a member of the Canadian forces.