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Flying High

Take a ride with us on an Irish Coast Guard helicopter

The crew based at Dublin Airport let us tag along on a training exercise and even winched our reporter out of the chopper…

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

IT’S SUNDAY AFTERNOON and this Irish Coast Guard helicopter crew are getting ready to take to the sky for a training exercise.

After a quick cup of tea and a full briefing on flight conditions, the crew of four hopped on board the Sikorsky S92 helicopter and, on this particular Sunday, they were kind enough to let us on tag along too.

The Dublin S92 was officially launched in January this year, completing the overhaul of the Coast Guard fleet with state-of-the-art aircraft.

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

The new technology in this chopper far exceeds its predecessor, with a long range heat seeking camera on the front to locate people in the water and a light for searches that we were told was so strong that it would start to melt the tarmac on the runway almost instantly. It can also fly in temperatures as low as minus 40.

Inside, there is enough space for 22 people – and of course all of the necessary medical equipment to assist the crew when they have a casualty on board.

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

In the cockpit, there are lots of very appealing buttons and levers that we were told politely not to touch or fall on top of. The screens you can see in the cockpit provide the pilots with detailed information, helping them decide, among other things where it’s safe to land.

The equipment in the cabin, operated by one of the winchmen, allows the crew to search for people in the water from a great distance and the pilots can toggle between these different screens which show heat sources, colour images and live night vision footage.

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

We flew along the coast, passing Howth and Bray and then over the Wicklow Mountains – some of the main areas where this crew would be called in to assist people.

It’s hard not to be envious of their daily access to incredibly stunning views of the Irish landscape. Here are just a few we captured:

Video / YouTube

After the training exercise was complete, it was back to the base at Dublin Airport where the crew agreed to winch this reporter out of the helicopter.

They take safety very seriously in the Coast Guard so, unfortunately, this is the only shot we got of it but you can use your imagination:

Michelle Hennessy / Michelle Hennessy / /

Read: Faster, safer, higher: Replacement of Irish Coast Guard chopper fleet completed>

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