Fifty years ago saw the start of the first Exercise Blackbird. The exercise involves helicopter mountain flying training among the gorgeous South Island alpine region. Half a century ago saw Iroquois, Sioux and a Wasp flitting through the ranges near Nelson. Today the exercise includes our A109s and NH90s. For those in the area, the exercise is on again this week and the A109s will be flying in the skies above. Later in the year, the NH90s will also be part of the event.