A sea of Mounties dressed in Red Serge greeted hundreds of mourners attending the funeral of RCMP helicopter pilot Dave Brolin Thursday.
Family, friends and co-workers quickly filled the seats at Peace Portal Alliance Church, with many left standing or sitting on the floor for the service honouring the Surrey father of two, who died Jan. 17 while on a training exercise near Chilliwack.
Eight Mounties escorted in Brolin’s casket, which was covered with the Canadian flag, as bagpipes played, signaling the beginning of the ceremony.
Speaking on behalf of the family was Cpl. Paul Hayes, who frequently worked with Brolin.
Describing Brolin as a man who lived life to the fullest and loved his family, Hayes recounted memories of the 46-year-old which he had compiled from family members.
“Dave loved his family, his children, his profession and he loved his country,” Hayes said.
Hayes told the story of when Brolin, 18 at the time, quit college, telling his dad he wanted to be a helicopter pilot, even though he didn’t know anything about it.
After he trained to be a pilot, his father said “he just ran with it and never looked back,” Hayes said.
Commissioner Bob Paulson spoke on behalf of the RCMP, expressing his condolences to Brolin’s wife and children and promising them that they would always be a part of the “RCMP family.”
Brolin was well-known within the local aviation community as a talented pilot with more than 25 years of experience. He was one of a handful of pilots 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 in order to spend more time with his family.
Born in California, he was a pilot with the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Storm and with Blackcomb Aviation in Whistler before joining the RCMP.
As a tribute to his military service, two bugle players sounded the musical piece “Taps” – traditionally played by the U.S. military during flag ceremonies or funerals.
The Transportation Safety Board and B.C. Coroners Service are still carrying out their investigation of the crash.