LEGO Labrador helicopter build is boys’ homage to SAR-Tech dad’s RCAF career
By Sara White,
Managing Editor, The Aurora
The “pick-up truck, workhorse” capabilities of the old CH-113 Labrador, used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as its search and rescue helicopter for 41 years before replacement with the CH-149 Cormorant, has a special corner of Master Warrant Officer (retired) Dan Pasieka’s heart.
But the LEGO model built by his sons, Mike, 15, and Denis, 13, represents their tribute to his 26-year military career, including time as a search and rescue technician.
The Ottawa family, and Dan himself, were never posted to 413 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood, but did spend time at search and rescue bases across Canada. Dan retired January 4, and the boys got to work.
“We designed this set for our father as a gift for him because he flew in this Labrador,” says Denis, describing the early process of sorting through their amassed bins of traditional LEGO to sort out as much yellow as they could find. The wanted moving parts and functioning features, including the retracting winch and ramp their dad would have worked with as he helped save fishermen, boaters, hikers, aviators and others in distress.
“We found a piece for the base, and started from that – and then it was trial and error,” Mike says. “We’d think we were done, but Dad would say, ‘No, add something – a door, the back ramp, a hinge…’.
“The hardest part was the back ramp. The base plate we used was offsetting some of our pieces and it was really hard to figure out how to make the ramp come back up into the doorway. A simple mechanism, but it took some time to figure out!”
As the hours added up, including adding in movable winch and blade functions, the boys called it complete March 11, loading their build to the LEGO Ideas website in hopes fan votes will catch the brick-building company’s attention, and the Labrador becomes a sellable kit down the road.
“If you hit the 10,000 (votes), the LEGO board will put your design through tests, deciding if it works,” Mike says. “You help them design it. It may change a little bit, but it’s still your original concepts and design.”
Dan says word is spreading among folks in the search and rescue trade, and reaction has been good for the boys’ effort. They’ve been interviewed for a radio station, and some online sharing of their pictures and the LEGO link is helping boost their chances. Their proposed set would come with a helipad, GPU cart (ground power unit), and a crew compliment of five LEGO characters: two pilots, one flight engineer and two SAR-Techs.
“I loved flying on the Labrador – a very robust helicopter,” Dan says. “You could put it down on water, which was cool.”
Check out the LEGO Labrador online here: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/61452f87-914c-4786-857b-3cfc71b50c56?fbclid=IwAR0XmLiH0IzcAd4uoSt-lia6oi5e20vd8fEBnkVhkXD8cMftcAGT–NeuBM