When my son was a toddler, his favourite activity was to be driven out to the airport to watch as the Cougar helicopters took off and landed, carrying workers to and from the oil rigs. In our house, for many years, “Cougar helicopter” was a synonym for a child’s love of fun, adventure, and big machines.
That changed, of course, a year ago, with the loss of Cougar flight 491. March 12 last year was a long day: from the first news reports that a helicopter had gone down, to the hopeful report that a life raft had been spotted and the survivors would no doubt all soon be rescued, to the shattering news that there was only one survivor; the raft was empty; one body had been recovered, and all the rest were lost forever. 17 people dead on their way to work.
It’s small, on the scale of world tragedies, but this is a small enough community that hardly anyone was more than one degree of separation away from those who died. In my case, I knew no-one on Flight 491, but almost all my colleagues at work knew someone who was on that helicopter.
One year later, a community is mourning the anniversary of that loss. My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost a loved one.