Sea Kings’ final flight holds special meaning for Vancouver Island family

Dozens of people turn out with family of pilot to wave farewell to Sea King helicopters

Retirement for some aging war birds held special meaning for a Nanaimo family this week.

Ronei Faganello and about 40 friends and supporters holding signs and Canadian flags braved a cold, stiff breeze at Pipers Lagoon for more than an hour Monday morning as they waited for a special fly-over by four CH-124 Sea King helicopters. The machines were making their final flight before being retired from service with the Canadian Armed Forces.

Faganello’s brother, Maj. Paul Faganello, with the 443 Maritime Helicopter Sdqn. and 24 years’ service with the Royal Canadian Air Force, piloted the lead helicopter in the four-aircraft formation.

“It was pretty exciting, not only for them to fly over, but for them to do a loop around and back again,” Faganello said. “To seee them so up close and one of the fellows that was there watching, said he saw my brother wave from his cockpit, to give an indication of how close they were.”

The Sikorsky CH-124 Sea Kings have been in continuous service with Canada’s military since 1963. The aging machines have been refurbished and upgraded over the decades, but have become increasingly difficult and costly to service. Twenty-eight of the original 41 CH-124s purchased by Canada in 1963 are still flying.

“For me it was very heartfelt because my brother has done three tours of duty in the Persian Gulf in those helicopters and, you know, to know that … those ‘copters – even though they may have a little bit of a bad rep about needing so much maintenance after every flight – they kept my brother alive and safe during those tours,” Faganello said.

Faganello’s mother Alice and father Ron, both 83, were also there to witness their son’s flight.

“For them to be out there to see their son, in their final years, doing something so impressive really just fills up their bucket,” Faganello said.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Ron, left, and Alice Faganello, both 83, walk to Pipers Park Lagoon causeway with daughter Ronei, second from left, and family friend Lindy Dines, to witness the final flight of four CH-124 Sea King helicopters, led by their son Royal Canadian Air Force Maj. Paul Faganello on Monday. CHRIS BUSH/ The News Bulletin

About 40 people, including the parents and several family members of the flight’s lead pilot, Maj. Paul Faganello, turned out to Nanaimo’s Pipers Lagoon Park to wave farewell to four Sikorsky CH124 Sea King helicopters on their final flight Monday. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Just Posted

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read