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N.S. welder honours helicopter crash victims with custom helmet art piece


As Remembrance Day approaches, a Nova Scotia artist has created a charity piece designed to spark remembrance of a more recent loss among the Canadian Armed Forces.

Every year, True Patriot Love Foundation auctions off helmets that have been painted or otherwise transformed by artists to raise money for the charity.

This year marks metal artist Al Hattie’s second year contributing to the cause and he chose as his focus to tribute the six members of the Canadian Armed Forces who died when a Cyclone helicopter plunged into the Ionian Sea in April 2020.

“This year’s piece I created to honour the lives lost from the Cyclone tragedy last year,” he told CTV News Atlantic.

He said the reason he chose that crash as his inspiration for this year’s piece was “to honour all Nova Scotians and the tragedies that we endured last year.”

Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, Capt. Kevin Hagen, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins and Sub.-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough all died in the crash. Three of them -- MacDonald, Pyke and Cowbrough -- were originally from Nova Scotia.

Hattie is an “upcycled metal artist,” which means that his sculptures are created from recycled scrap metal.

His art piece this year transforms the basic military helmet into a miniature helicopter, complete with a metal tail, landing gear, metal rods outlining where windows would be, and moving rotors on the top.

The tail of the helicopter is made from “an old sander” that Hattie had sitting on a shelf for years.

“I was really trying to hit a few of the main details so that when people look at it, they’d know that it’s a Cyclone helicopter,” he said.

He deliberately added only six windows to the helmet helicopter to pay tribute to those six victims.

"The whole time I’m creating it, all I can do is to think about the six souls that were on that helicopter,” he said.

Hattie’s art piece joins other helmets transformed into canvases being auctioned off to raise money in support of the veterans’ charity.

"It's my way of trying to give back,” he said. Top Stories

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