Parrsboro air cadets acquire helicopters

Andrew Wagstaff
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Grounded aircraft to be used for education, promotion

PARRSBORO – Local air cadets will be traveling in future parades in style.
The 689 Handley Page Air Cadets Squadron has acquired two helicopters from the Nova Scotia Community College Aviation Institute in Halifax, and will be keeping them in Parrsboro for their own activities.
“Primarily, this says we are an air cadet unit,” said Keith Odlin, commanding officer of the squadron.

689 Handley Page air cadets squadron commanding officer Keith Odlin poses with the Scorpion helicopter the squadron recently acquired, along with a Robinson-22, from the NSCC Aviation Institute in Halifax.

The small Robinson-22 and Scorpion helicopters were donated to the squadron at no cost, and are planned to be a visible fixture in the community. Right now they are being stored for the winter on the property of one of the cadets.

The whole thing started with a field trip to the school, according to Odlin.

“Originally, every two years we would go to CFB Shearwater, and would obviously go to the aviation museums there, and at CFB Greenwood,” he explained. “These are field trips, to do stuff we can’t do here in Parrsboro, as far as the operations program goes. Several years ago, I discovered the NSCC aviation campus was down there.”

After inquiring with administrative assistant Rose Legge, the cadets were invited to visit the school, and have been returning ever since.

During one of their visits, Odlin noticed these helicopters off to the side while the students were working on other projects. It gave the appearance of being surplus equipment, and he indicated his interest in taking possession of one of them, should it become available.

“Then the institute in Moncton closed, and all of a sudden (the Halifax campus) inherited all of their training aids,” he explained. “Suddenly they didn’t have room for everything in Halifax.”

Legge contacted him and offered the Robinson-22 helicopter to the squadron.  Odlin quickly made calls to friends and supporters of the squadron and got the labour and equipment donated for the job. Eric Henwood offered a trailer, and David Roberts offered his truck to pull it. Patricia Ellis offered the property to house the helicopter, while Audra and Peter Campbell offered their equipment to get it set up in a temporary garage.

To Odlin’s surprise, however, the single helicopter soon became two.

“We went down with the truck and trailer, and there was the Robinson, which was awesome,” he said. “Then Peter Bing, the academic chair, asked me if I wanted to take the Scorpion too. All of a sudden, we were squeezing two helicopters onto the trailer.”

While they no longer have engines, the helicopters have all of their instrumentation intact, making them fantastic training aids for teaching flight control systems to the cadets.

They also plan to paint the helicopters in the cadet colours, and hope to use them in community parades. So there is both an educational and a visual value.

“I would like to think we can build a training facility on legion property that will encompass these and maybe a little workshop so cadets can have hands-on real-time work,” he said. “I think we can take cadets to the next training level, having this sort of stuff around.”

Twitter: @ADNandrew


Geographic location: Parrsboro, Halifax, Moncton

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