People near Grande Prairie may see and hear Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130H Hercules, CH-146 Griffon helicopters, and a CC138 Twin Otter flying overhead, and see Search and Rescue Technicians parachuting between April 25 – 29. Residents may also see rescue equipment being parachuted from aircraft over drop zones. All aircraft and crew will be in Grande Prairie for 435 Squadron’s annual Search and Rescue exercise (SAREX). Airfields in Beaverlodge and Valleyview are also expected to see some SAREX traffic.

Flight times may vary due to weather or training scenarios and night flights are also likely. All measures are being taken to ensure minimal impact to those living near the training areas and residents are asked to not to approach the drop zones.

435 Squadron holds an annual SAREX to provide training opportunities for all members of the squadron. Locations for the SAREX vary, allowing for different terrains, weather and settings.

Participants in the exercise include the RCAF’s 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 439 Combat Support Squadron Sqn (3 Wing Bagotville, QC), 417 Combat Support Squadron (4 Wing Cold Lake, AB), 440 Transport Squadron (Yellowknife, NWT), US Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, Alaska, Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS), as well as local Ground Search and Rescue teams. Working with other SAR partners allows the sharing of best practices and enhances interoperability during actual SAR missions that involve multiple agencies.

Health Protection Measures will be enforced at all times. This training will adhere to the CAF Layered Risk Mitigation strategy, guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and guidelines from municipal and provincial health authorities.

The Royal Canadian Air Force has the primary responsibility of providing aeronautical SAR services in Canada, and is responsible for the effective operation of the coordinated aeronautical and maritime SAR system. The RCAF may also help with ground SAR efforts, medical evacuations and other incidents where people are in distress. Canadian Armed Forces SAR crews are on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.