I'm On My Way Down!
With our inside contact, we were able to obtain the necessary security passes to have access to the Base itself. Here, we were treated to a walk-through of one of the main hangers as well as a runway view of several of Canada's current front-line fighter, the CF-18 Hornet, taking off and performing various manouevers!
Then, it was into the special SARTech room where the Rescue specialists hold sway. I had myself kitted out in typical jump gear (minus the bright orange jumpsuit) just to see what it was all about. Parachute on my back, orange medical kit bag on my front with helmet/visor and I was ready for 'free-fall'! A fairly hefty load but luckily you don't do too much walking with this stuff on!
My hat is off to these guys (and gals) - qualified Emergency Medical Technicians, Para-jumpers trained for Arctic, ocean or tree-top landings, Mountaineers with rapelling skills, Swimming skills - you name it, they have to be constantly training and ready for anything when the chopper takes off! My guy is ex-Paratroop as well so he knows how to handle himself!
The New Kid on the Block
In the last two years, the new Westland-Augusta 'Cormorant' helicopter has been brought into-service, leading to the phase-out of the 'Labrador' in the summer of 2004.
Although with only one main rotor, these new twin-engine helicopters are far ahead of the old Labs in their operational performance: Speed 145 knts (105 Lab), Hover Altitude 8000 ft (5000), Range 530 naut. miles (500) and cabin size 975 cu. ft. (810).
My son-in-law was involved in ferrying the first of these new choppers back from Europe via the Iceland route and helped to work them up into readiness state before leaving his Nova Scotia posting. The photo is taken from a model box for his young son!
Cold Lake, Alberta
"Discovering new things constantly"
We moved here mid 2008 and though we have explored the area some, there is so much to see! I can hardly wait. So far we did get to spend the back end of summer in the North Bay Cabins and after a few dips in the lake (including a couple of times unintentionally from the canoe) it was easy to see how it got it's name. It's a really beautiful area.
Here I am off the beaten path again...
"Canadian Forces Base at Cold Lake"
I was the special guest of the Alberta Government to tour various aspects of Western Canada, so I was able to fly up to the Canadian Forces Base at Cold Lake, commonly referred to as CFB Cold Lake or 4 Wing Cold Lake which is a Canadian Forces Base located 5.5 nautical miles (10.19 km) southwest of Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada. It is operated by the Canadian Forces Air Command and is one of two bases in the country using the CF-18 Hornet fighter\interceptor.
I didn't get to fly a CF-18, but I did go for an aerial jaunt in a CH-146 Griffin across the vast impenetrable tangle of marsh forest that reaches to the horizon like an ocean to view the Northern Test Range.
I doubt you can just walk into the base to see the planes, but its not a large operatiion, so you might find someone who will give you a tour.
"The town of Cold Lake itself"
Its beginning to get rather cool in Cold Lake during September. I took a boat ride from one end of Cold Lake to the other and back as the guest of the City Fathers while a fish fry was being prepared for our return. The fish were "lake trout" that are indigenous to Cold Lake's fresh waters. Cold lake is fed from streams coming in at one end and appeared to be only semi oligotrophic (having some nutrients) because of its greenish color that would obliterate a Secchi disk at about 3 meters depth-- oops, sorry for waxing technical.
There was a time in the 1940s and 1950s when there were hardly any fish in the lake, and it became known as the "Dead Sea" due to over-fishing. But today things are different because of supplemental stocking and strict regulations on the amount of fish that can be taken.
The city is situated in Alberta's "Lakelands" district, 280 km northeast of Edmonton, near the Alberta-Saskatchewan interprovincial border. The area surrounding the city is sparsely populated and mostly controlled by the Canadian Armed Forces through the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR), which is used by aircraft operating out of CFB Cold Lake.
OK, here are the demographics for Cold Lake: Population - 11, 985 (so its not too crowded though there are tourists coming in during certain times of the year). 68% of the population is between 14 and 65, so old people apparently don't retire to Cold Lake (only 5% are over 65), and there are a lot of young families with kids (27.5% are under 14 years old). What this tells me is that the town of Cold Lake is probably where most of the people working at Canadian Forces Base live.
So, why would you want to visit here?
4. Horseback Riding
5. Fishing and Hunting
6. Hiking Trails
Is Cold Lake
Medley, Alberta houses a Canadian Air Forces base which houses Cadet Camp Cold Lake. I spent sveral summers up ther in survival training. othe courses taught leadership and music but in Cold Lae Alberta I learned to teach survival.
The weather is completely unpridictable. it can rai or shine on a moments notice with days over 40 degrees celcius and once it snowed in August.
But when you get out into the woods. To Cold Lake (which is COLD) or Mary Lake... it is not too far to Peace River. You can see the Northern lights (though I missed them every time).
The ground is fairly flat so the hiking is not too difficult.
The only thing is you should try to be careful not to bother the wild animals. There are bears and other animals so take care not to disturb them!!