Cow Bay provides training ground for Air Force helicopters

While not unusual to see a helicopter hovering around Cowichan Bay, lately area residents may be seeing a lot more military action

While not unusual to see the occasional helicopter hovering around Cowichan Bay, lately area residents may be seeing a lot more military action in the skies above — but there’s no cause for concern.

According to the Department of National Defence/Royal Canadian Air Force, 443 Maritime Helicopter Squadron is doing flight operations in and around Cowichan Bay upwards of three times a day through Friday, Dec. 4.

“During the conduct of these operations, the public will notice a short-term increase in noise levels in the vicinity of Cowichan Bay as the helicopters manoeuvre in and out of the area,” said a press release.

Major Dale Arndt said depending on the exercise, any given session could last between a few minutes and a couple of hours.

Arndt noted the training is relatively standard, but the location is not.

“It’s really the stuff we do on a regular basis, it’s just in a different location for the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Based at the Victoria Airport, the unit usually trains south of Victoria but their space was being used by another squadron that had it booked this time around.

“Normally we do most of our training work south of Victoria and when we require a place to do hoisting and slinging work we go to Albert Head,” Arndt explained. “Unfortunately for us there’s another military user who is doing an exercise there for the next couple of weeks so we’ve been displaced.”

Westcan has agreed the group can use its property in Cowichan Bay.

The choppers could be in the area anytime weekdays between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.