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RCMP pilot was 'dedicated and selfless'

RCMP helicopter pilot David Brolin (inset) died Jan. 17, in a crash near Cultus Lake. - RCMP photos
RCMP helicopter pilot David Brolin (inset) died Jan. 17, in a crash near Cultus Lake.
— image credit: RCMP photos

A helicopter pilot killed in a crash Tuesday while on a training exercise near Chilliwack was a father of two who lived and grew up in Cloverdale and South Surrey.

Dave Brolin, 46, joined the RCMP in June 2006.

A statement released by the RCMP described Brolin as a dedicated family man who flew Lower Mainland Traffic Services helicopters Air 1, Air 2 and Air 5, the latter of which was frequently used for search-and-rescue operations.

Brolin died Jan. 17, after Air 5 crashed near Cultus Lake, shortly after completing a successful training exercise. He was preparing to return to base at the time of the crash, which occurred around 2 p.m.

The Transportation Safety Board and B.C. Coroners Service are investigating.

Chief Supt. Wayne Rideout said Brolin was a civilian member of the RCMP and the sole occupant of the helicopter. He was taken to hospital by members of the RCMP Emergency Response Team who were part of the training exercise.

“I want to express my sincere condolences to his family, friends and coworkers during this difficult time,” Rideout said in the statement.

“(Brolin) was also a part of our RCMP family and he will be missed.”

Brolin had an eight-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son. Born in California, he was a pilot with the U.S. Army and with Blackcomb Aviation in Whistler prior to joining the RCMP.

During his tour of duty with the U.S. military, Brolin flew various sorties during Operation Desert Storm, the first Gulf War in 1991 that saw the U.S. armed forces and 34 allies liberate Kuwait after the small Arab nation was invaded by Iraq.

Tributes to Brolin are pouring in to the BC RCMP News Facebook page, as well as to a webpage created by the RCMP for those wishing to leave condolences for his family.

He was known within the local aviation community as a talented pilot with enormous personal charm, one of a handful in B.C. who specialized in flying film helicopters to capture airborne footage for movie and television productions.

People who knew Brolin say he left the movie business to work for the RCMP because he wanted to spend more time with his family, but he would still get called by producers because of his reputation for producing perfectly framed, rock-steady footage.

He flew a number of helicopter camera flights with another pilot, Ralph Mendoza, who said their last mission together was capturing the very first flight of Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner for a 3D IMAX film, Legends of Flight, in December of 2009.

Online footage from the event shows the helicopter pacing the 787 just a few metres away from its wingtip as the big jet rumbles down the runway in Seattle.

“It was a national spectacle, and our little red helicopter was seen all over the world on news reports,” Mendoza writes on Facebook.

“The filming went extremely well and we were all tickled to see ourselves on TV.”

In posting his recollection to the RCMP site, Mendoza said he wanted to “express my deepest condolences to Dave’s family, and hope this happy little memory may bring a little comfort with it.”

It was one of dozens of messages from across Canada and the U.S.

“(Brolin) was an amazing member of a unique and special group of individuals who serve and protect us each and every day,” writes a Nanaimo RCMP auxiliary constable.

Bill Randall of West Shore RCMP writes that Brolin’s “dedication and selfless nature was always something that many others could only hope to attain and all who knew him regarded him with great respect and admiration.”

A funeral for Brolin is to take place 1 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 26) at Peace Portal Alliance Church, 15128 27B Ave.

 

 

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