In January 2019, BC RCMP announced the receipt of Canada’s first-ever H145 twin-engine helicopter, which became the RCMP’s Air 5. The helicopter was at the Salmon Arm Airport on Tuesday, June 16 as part of a police training exercise. (BC RCMP image)

Salmon Arm Airport hops with helicopter business, emergency response team

Big aircraft lands followed by B.C.’s RCMP helicopter

That helicopter you might have heard flying loudly over Salmon Arm Tuesday was not in trouble. Nor was it searching for drugs or criminals.

It is owned by Keith Watson of East West Helicopters, who is also manager of the Salmon Arm Airport.

Watson explains that on June 16, a heavy class helicopter of his had been up at Sun Peaks Resort, pouring concrete bases for a chair lift. His company website outlines how a Bell 214B1 can take up to 8,000 pounds on its cargo hook.

Although the sound when it flew back home over Salmon Arm to the airport might have sounded ominously loud, that’s just how it is.

“It’s noisy, it’s loud. It carries a big wallop,” Watson said with a smile.

Upcoming at Sun Peaks, the big flying machine will help put up towers.

Just after the East West helicopter landed on Tuesday, another helicopter came in.

Read more: ‘High risk’ police search in Shuswap appears to be connected to home invasion

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Watson recognized it as belonging to the BC RCMP.

“They have a new helicopter for the province. It’s beautiful.”

He said the police were at the airport doing training with the rig – doors, seat belts, that kind of thing.

However, it appeared the officers suddenly received a call.

“They left at a high rate of speed. I don’t know where they were headed but they left in a hurry.”

Meanwhile the Internet was aflutter with sightings of several black police trucks racing east past Sicamous and Revelstoke with sirens blaring.

Staff Sgt. Scott West of Salmon Arm RCMP confirmed that the region’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) was engaged in training that day.

The RCMP’s communications department said due to operational sensitivities of the drill, no further information could be provided.

Regarding the police helicopter, in a January 2019 news release, BC RCMP’s Air Services said it would utilize the Airbus H145 helicopter to: support tactical deployments day and night over land and water for the ERT; expand options in fast roping and hoisting; assist with missing persons investigations, frontline operations and medical evacuations; and add capabilities to search and rescue operations.

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One of Keith Watson’s heavy class helicopters helps move concrete. (Photo contributed)

Keith Watson, manager of the Salmon Arm Airport and president of East West Helicopters, said one of his heavy class helicopters was helping move concrete at Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops on June 16. (Photo contributed)

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