Military aircraft conducts low-altitude training over Vancouver Island.

Aviation fans with a keen eye will notice some extra activity in the skies over Vancouver Island through the middle of next week as a large military plane spends time training here.

The Hercules and its 24 crewmembers and technicians are at 19 Wing Comox from June 1 to 8 conducting low-altitude training and payload-drop practice.

“Today was training day one,” said Capt. Michael Carey of Trenton’s 426 Transport Training Squadron on Tuesday. “Today we did some mountain contour flying trying to prepare our crews here for search and rescue in mountainous terrain.”

Normally it’s the distinctive yellow Buffalo airplane that most people around the island see doing search and rescue operations, but in many parts of Canada it’s the Hercules that performs that role.

“Currently it’s in use in Winnipeg, Trenton and Greenwood,” said Carey. “The real big advantage to the Hercules is its range and its payload capability.”

The Comox base sent out a public advisory on Monday letting the public know they would likely see the large grey aircraft flying low and slow over many parts of the island.

“Conducting those low-level searches as well as those practice drops, especially around airfields, some of the public might see us flying low-level, conducting some drops to those airfields,” Carey said.

On Monday the crew and aircraft were around the Tofino area while other missions may take them as far as the Lower Mainland. In many instances, the aircraft will be dropping objects and technicians.

“That can include anything from food and water to extra shelter and clothing, as well as doing our live parachute jumps for our search and rescue technicians,” Carey said.