Rugby legends aid Chopper Appeal

Last updated 18:22 14/05/2014
Fairfax NZ

Sir John Kirwan and Richie McCaw go head to head in a series of Westpac Rescue Helicopter training drills.

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Rugby legends Richie McCaw and Sir John Kirwan turned their hands to helicopters this afternoon in support of the Westpac Chopper Appeal.

The pair led members of the public through a series of boot camp challenges, including being submerged in an icy cold pool by the "dunker" helicopter used for underwater escape training.

This was followed by CPR drills, rescue swims and rope climbs, as well as time in a flight simulator.

All Black captain McCaw said it was an insight into the role the rescue service provided on a daily basis.

"You've got trained pilots, paramedics, people that operate winches . . . it's a service we all sort of take for granted until you actually need it," he said.

"We're pretty lucky to have a service like this."

McCaw, who has had his helicopter pilot's licence for two years, said he also picked up some useful tips.

"I don't fly across the water too often but you never know you might have to and you want to know how to get out I suggest," he said of the underwater escape training.

Kirwan, whose team won the challenge four points to two, said there were some nervous moments.

He said the wet weather provided an understanding of the conditions pilots regularly faced on rescues.

"They're always on call and ready to save lives," he said.

"Often it's in bad weather so they're risking their own lives to save other people. They've always got a smile on their faces and always in good humour, but what they do is quite incredible."

Kirwan said he hoped people would get behind the fundraising appeal.

"You just never know when you're going to need them," he said.

Contributions to your local chopper service can be made at

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