It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s both!

  • Aug. 20, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Search and rescue crews from 19 Wing Comox are used to dropping things out the back of the aircraft, such as life rafts flares and even search and rescue technicians, but it isn’t every day that something drops in. That’s exactly what happened during an exercise near Sandspit in mid-July. The Buffalo crew was practising dropping parachutes with rescue supplies and technicians on a remote beach while members of the Canadian Coast Guard stood by, when pilots heard that a little bird had somehow made its way into the cabin of the plane. “The bird eventually hopped its way to the cockpit and landed on my finger while I was still flying the plane,” said co-pilot Capt. Henry Graham. The Buffalo crew postponed the parachute drop long enough for Capt. Graham and aircraft commander Capt. Andrew Doepner to receive an “on-the-fly” flying lesson from their new feathered friend. “We were flying low and slow with the door open. The bird must have gotten caught in our wake and sucked in the back door,” Capt. Doepner said. “He was a pretty lucky bird.” The crew continued on the mission, and after landing in Sandspit, carefully released the bird. Capt. Trevor Reid, the public affairs officer at 19 Wing Comox, said the crew was not able to identify the bird, but it was very small. None of the crew had ever seen a bird get into a plane before. “Everybody we’ve spoken to was quite amazed,” Capt. Reid said. The Royal Canadian Air Force base at 19 Wing Comox provides CC-115 Buffalo and CH-149 Cormorant helicopter crews to provide maritime and air search and rescue for BC and the Yukon.