BRAKE HAND ON…..
By: OCdt Nick Goulet
As the helicopter rises steadily into the air, you can feel the line in your brake hand get heavier and heavier. The flimsy seatbelt on your lap seems ridiculousl inadequate to keep you in the aircraft, especially considering the furious wind you feel whipping the leg of your pants. The swiss seat you crafted out of a sashcord about an hour earlier seems to have slackened and shifted dangerously to the side, but it’s too late to fix that now. At around a hundred feet up, the craft levels out. “LOOK HERE!” yells the student of the Rappel Master (RM) course over the chopping of the rotor. “”DROP ROPE! NUMBER ONE, POSITION!” Repeating the RM’s command, you unclip the seat belt and try to find the skid of the aircraft with your boot. An intense moment of vertigo hits you as you glance downward. Probably better to keep your eyes on the horizon for now. You turn around and adopt a somewhat horizontal poisiton off the skid. Your heart pounds, as the 75 pound ruck on your back prevents you from actually putting your brake hand in the correct position behind your back. “NUMBER ONE, GO!” With a gulp and a quick prayer to the most convenient diety, you jump from the chopper, your brake open as far as possible to ensure you clear the skid with your face and helmet. The moment of terror quickly turns into exhillaration as you accelerate down the rope in quasi free fall.You make eye contact with your mate from the opposite side of the helicopter. “HELL YEAH!” he exclaims as you scream past him. As if in afterthought, you bring your brake hand behind your back to increase friction on the red hot metal Figure Eight, thereby decelerating your descent in manner much more comfortable than a high-speed impact with the dirt. You land on your feet, miraculously staying upright despite the weight of the ruck, unclip from the line and give the RM a thumbs up.
On the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of July 2009, a group of cadets from the Royal Military College had the opportunity to support the students of the Advanced Mountain Operations (AMO) course by acting as rappelers for their RM course. This allowed the students to focus on their assesments, dispatching soldiers first from the rappel tower and then from the aircraft wearing just their uniforms, then in full fighting order, and last wearing sand-filled rucksacs. A total of 18 cadets were able to volunteer on Wednesday the 22nd, leaping off the 15 and 30 foot walls as well as the infamous skid all day long in beautiful sunshine. Due to vehicle restrictions, the group was cut down to 11 for the trip to Trenton the next morning, eagerly awaiting the chance to jump out of the birds. Unfortunately, the weather was uncooperative, and the cadets spent the day observing the activities of the Canadian Parachute Center and learning to rock climb from the students on the AMO course. The cadets were offered to return the following day to try again, weather permitting, and further vehicle restrictions thinned the herd down to 7. To their amazement, and in direct contradiction of the forecast provided by the weather network, Friday the 24th turned out to be a stunningly beautiful day and the bird showed up in style. The day was spent leaping out of the CH-146 Griffon Helicopter, a truly fantastic experience for all involved.
The lady and gentlemen cadets who helped support the AMO course: 24848 Alex Whittaker,
24840 Mark Sandner, 24959 Matthew Gallaway, 24466 Brian Norwick, 24667 Ryan Pridmore, 25114 Darren Rioux, 25076 Andrew Standfield, 24653 Dion Marson, 25008 Patricia Brunelle, 24725 Daniel Brideau, 25406 Jordan Hope, 25221 Kyle Ezekiel, 24595 Katrine Chayer, 23917 Bryan Ackeret and 24994 Max Rosenkranz, under the direction of OPI 24198 Nicholas Goulet, would like to thank the course candidates and staff as well as the RMC staff who allowed this activity to happen.