Military Helicopter Buzzes False Creek While Tracking Paralympic Torch Relay on Camera

Helicopter over Granville Street Bridge in a photograph by Linda Solomon

A military helicopter either on a practice drill or in preparation for the Opening Ceremonies for the 2010 Paralympics hovered above the Granville Street Bridge and buzzed a path over False Creek to BC Place, turning and going back to the bridge again.

The helicopter made a loud enough noise to demand attention between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Friday afternoon.

With another flying much higher above it, the city-buzzing copter wasn't on the radar of Constable  Jana McGuinness of the Vancouver Police Department.  Constable McGuinness  made calls but was not able to be sure of what the airborne vehicle's mission was.  She directed me to Major Dan Thomas of Integrated Security Unit, but he wasn't answering his phone.  The voice message on Major Thomas's line asked media to call the ISU media relations number.  That number also had a recorded message, asking for the purpose of the call, a deadline,name of media organization, etc.

Constable McGuinness said the helicopter wasn't present due to an accident or an injury.  She remarked that during the 2010 Vancouver Games, helicopters were frequently present.  Things have quieted down since then, but with the Paralympics beginning, things just got noisier.

David Lavallee, a public relations officer in the Air Force Contingent called an hour later to explain.  The helicopters were "supporting the Paralympic torch relay."  They were gathering camera imagery, Lavallee said.  By the time he called, the helicopters were gone and False Creek was relatively quiet again.


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