Apples north!

News Article / January 29, 2018

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By Corporal Kayla Wentzell

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s CP-140 Aurora crews regularly carry out scheduled northern patrols. But Crew 3 from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron, located at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia, had an unusual cargo with them when they set out on a northern fisheries patrol last autumn.

The mission took the crew to Iqaluit, Nunavut. Operating in such a remote, Arctic location presents many challenges, but also offers up many rewarding experiences. Among these was the opportunity to take something very common in the Annapolis Valley where Greenwood is located to the children of Iqaluit’s Joamie School: fresh Valley-grown apples!

On one of our days off, Captain Joe MacKinnon, Captain Colin Clansey and I, all from 405 Squadron, along with Major Jeff Robert and Petty Officer First Class Jay Logan from Joint Task Force North Detachment Nunavut, attended a morning assembly at Joamie School. Everyone gathered in the gymnasium for the national anthem, followed by school announcements for the week. Of course, with strangers dressed in green military garb standing at the side of the room, there were lots of excited whispers and little eyes watching closely.

Captain MacKinnon was then given the microphone to address the students. He told them about the CP-140 Aurora aircraft, and the reason for it and the crew’s presence in the North. He also talked about life in the Annapolis Valley – and about the apples the crew had brought north aboard the plane. The children asked questions; many little hands flew up, and it was wonderful to see so much excitement. A favourite question was how old Captain Mackinnon was! This led to all of us telling our ages and how long we’d been serving with the Canadian Armed Forces. Later, we spoke more with a class of Grade 5 students and shared photographs of the Aurora.

The students all took turns trying to lift the huge bags of apples, and then they helped me take the apples to their kitchen to be part of the school’s breakfast program.

One little boy even decided he was going to join the Air Force!

Searching for wildlife

Another rewarding experience for the entire crew was the mission to assist the Eastern Arctic division of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in its search for migrating wildlife. The mission also served to make the Government’s presence known to help deter illegal hunting. We had to persevere through some severe northern weather and then we watched out all windows to look for signs of walrus, polar bear and narwhale migration.

The Royal Canadian Air Force carries out many valuable missions across the country – and this was no exception. When we’d completed the task, we were repaid with a beautiful view of the northern mountains and the sight of icebergs.

I find that undertakings such as these help make the often-long hours, time away from family and the demands of flying worthwhile.

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