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 Post subject: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2013, 18:24 
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Joined: 03/26/10
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Company: Stones Farms
Location: Lebanon, KS (K82)
Aircraft: 1968 Bonanza E33
I was asked by our local sheriff's office to conduct an aerial search for a missing motorist. The wind was 25 gusting to 40+ knots, the baro was 29.45 and the air was really rough. What altitude agl would you have flown for the best balance of sightng effectiveness and safety? What tips would you have for improving the effectiveness of an aerial search? The lady was found by a ground searcher after a 21 hour ordeal. She reported that my plane had flown over her location a couple of times.


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 Post subject: Re: Search recommendations
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2013, 18:29 
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Location: West Palm Beach, FL (KLNA)
Aircraft: 1979 Duke B60
Not less than 300-500ft, but I would want something slower than a Bo with better downward visibility.

Most Cell Towers are 200agl, 199ft actually.. and the other(taller) radio towers are well documented.


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 Post subject: Re: Search recommendations
PostPosted: 11 Mar 2013, 19:40 
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Company: B&L Aviation
Location: North Myrtle Beach, SC (KCRE)
Aircraft: 2010 Bonanza G36TN
I am on the SAR team for the Sheriff's Office here. I have only used the Bo once (the first time) and after that I started using the Cherokee. I NEVER go below 500' agl. and I always have a spotter with me so they can do the looking while I do the flying. Also, I advise the local approach what I am doing and keep them apprised of the area I'm in and my altitude (usually under 3000' agl they cannot pick me up on radar due to the mountains). :peace:

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1966 Cherokee 180


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 12:29 
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Location: Pensacola (KPNS), FL
Aircraft: P35, 1963
Typical Civil Air Patrol search pattern is 1000'AGL and 90kts during daytime, although other factors can change that. CAP uses high wing aircraft since the area obscured by a low wing aircraft is really large. CAP also has personnel in the aircraft dedicated to searching the ground while the mission pilot's focus is flying safely and maintaining the search pattern.
Tom


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 12:59 
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Location: Westlake Village, CA
Username Protected wrote:
Typical Civil Air Patrol search pattern is 1000'AGL and 90kts during daytime, although other factors can change that. CAP uses high wing aircraft since the area obscured by a low wing aircraft is really large. CAP also has personnel in the aircraft dedicated to searching the ground while the mission pilot's focus is flying safely and maintaining the search pattern.
Tom


What Tom says is absolutely right. I spent over a decade in the CAP and was involved in a number of searches and a lot of training. We never flew below 1000' AGL. We always had at least one observer and usually an observer and a back seat scanner. The observer is the airplane commander and the pilot flies the plane following the observers directions.

A crashed airplane looks very different from the air. Time of day, light and shadows, terrain all makes a difference. Often you are looking for signs of impact (terrain scarring, broken branches, etc) and not wreckage. On a big CAP search, grids would be repeatedly searched at different times of day to satisfy that they were clear.

Flying the grids was just one part of the search. A lot of preflight planning, discussing the best way to approach the search within the grid and the type of search required (route, expanding spiral, contour, north/south or east/west grids etc).

If you get involved in a search don't go alone, fly slow, and fly safe. You don't want to suddenly become the subject of the search.

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Antoni Deighton
CMA: Camarillo , CA


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 13:08 
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Location: Pensacola (KPNS), FL
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Here is another idea...ask the sheriff's office to call the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center for assistance. If the person in the car has a cell phone, they can use the cell tower history to determine its last known location (good starting point). If they suspect the person is injured or unconscious, then calling the cell phone, assuming it is "on" and in range of a cell tower will allow them to greatly narrow the search area. Since it is for SAR and not law enforcement purposes, the cell companies are a great help in finding both missing persons and downed aircraft.
http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=1762e867-a69c-40f0-a446-d03c5ff3ee84
Tom


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 14:32 
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I'm kind of floored that the Sheriff asked you to do this search. They have trained resources available to them, both at the state level and the national level through CAP and AFRCC.

The first thing you should do to improve your search technique is go get some training. You might as well have asked "How can I improve my instrument flying?" after just finishing your private checkride.

CAP is the main aviation-based SAR agency. Depending on how much time you have to dedicate and how well organized the group is, you can usually progress to Mission Pilot in 18 mos. to 2 years. The best Mission Pilots spend a lot of time in the back and right seats before worrying about the left seat.

As was said before, we don't count an area as fully searched on the first pass. Depending on the terrain, ground cover, and lighting it can take 5 or 6 different searches to clear an area, and we try to have those done by different crews so there are fresh eyes.

If the ground cover is dense you might not be able to see it from an airplane at all. Several years ago I was involved in a search in a wooded area in Northern New Jersey during the summer. The missing plane was found next to a small ridge under a dense canopy of hardwood trees. Nobody in an airplane had seen the crash site.

A state police helicopter crew found the site when they noticed several crows circling the area and figured there might be a carcass. They found one broken tree branch and called in a ground team to investigate.

They took pictures overhead while the ground team was still there, wearing orange vests, and the ground team is not visible in the photos. At all.


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 19:02 
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Company: Stones Farms
Location: Lebanon, KS (K82)
Aircraft: 1968 Bonanza E33
Thanks for several fine suggestions. A little further information about the situation. The person is a diabetic and did not have her medications with her. The area where she was found did not have cell reception.
This is the second time in the last year I have been called on by the Sherriff, so it seems that there is some justIfication for a more formal approach to making this service available to our community.


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 19:33 
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Username Protected wrote:
This is the second time in the last year I have been called on by the Sherriff, so it seems that there is some justIfication for a more formal approach to making this service available to our community.


It may be worthwhile to put your sheriff in contact with the CAP squadron closest to your location. Even without involvement of the AFRCC, these kinds of missions can be flown by CAP either through a direct MOU with the sheriffs department or sometimes through the state emergency management agency.
Coordinating between air and ground assets is one of the things we train for, including communication with local law enforcement on whatever interagency channel is set up for your state. If you can look past the peagentry and paperwork BS, looking for a lost diabetic in an area without cell reception would sound like a prime CAP mission.

If you dont want to deal with CAP and just do this on a local level, consider setting this up as a 'sheriffs aero squadron'. The main benefit of this would be an agreement with the sheriff on what you can and cannot do and establish some sort of communication between you and the ground crew. If you do search and rescue on behalf of a law enforcement agency, you are btw. allowed to receive full reimbursement for your operating expenses.

These are the reference texts used within CAP to train air-crews (Scanner, Observer, Pilot). As a pilot, you can probably skip to chapter 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11.

http://nesa.cap.gov/Documents/MAS%20Upl ... 0Apr10.pdf

This is the mission observer / mission pilot text, some repetition with above but goes more into the planning aspects:

http://nesa.cap.gov/Documents/MAS%20Upl ... 0Apr10.pdf

Just try to look past the sillynesss and focus on the contents.


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 19:59 
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We have a CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) Airborne unit here.

1000 AGL minimum......

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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 20:03 
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Joined: 07/11/11
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Company: Apple Inc
Location: Redwood City, CA (KPAO)
Aircraft: 1967 Bonanza V35
Sounds like a good excuse to buy a Super Cub... :thumbup:


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 12 Mar 2013, 20:57 
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Company: USAF Simulator Instructor
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I was in the CAP many years ago and participated in SAR exercises in the Air Force. It never ceased to amaze me how difficult it is to find an airplane from the air. The world is an incredibly huge place and our airplanes are so tiny.


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2013, 09:32 
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Joined: 03/26/10
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Company: Stones Farms
Location: Lebanon, KS (K82)
Aircraft: 1968 Bonanza E33
Doug, Florian, and all BTers,
Great ideas. This involvement has developed out of an effort by the local pilots to improve airport/community relations. We have sponsored several events at the airport such as bbq's, an airshow, etc. inviting the public as well as community leaders. The Sherriff's department and the police department have furnished traffic control for our events so we do have a cordial working relationship with them.
Our desire as a pilot group is to be an an asset to the community, but it appears that if this service is to continue we need to step up the formality of our arrangement. To the best of my knowledge, it is 120 miles to the closest CAP and this is the main reason they have not been contacted at this point.


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2013, 11:06 
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Joined: 10/22/08
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Location: Sherman, Tx
Aircraft: 35-C33, A36
Username Protected wrote:
I'm kind of floored that the Sheriff asked you to do this search. .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebanon,_Kansas

Note population 218.
and geographic center of the USA.

Alot of the citizens of these tiny rural communities like to be self reliant...
some of it is out of necessity due to the long distances for services/assistance.

Never been to Lebanon... but I wouldn't hesitate to fly over much of SW Kansas at 500 to 1000 agl...in smooth air... I'll defer to others that 1000 agl is good altitude...
Finding a smoother ride would have dictated my altitude for your recent search....
Avoiding antennae/towers/ wind turbines....

My angus herd bull is missing for 36 hours... believe he is "visiting" the neighbors cows...
they can be hard to see in the scrubby mesquite...plan on getting out the deb and searching this evening... about 500 ' to 1000' agl.
Works great... BTDT...

Leldon


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 Post subject: Re: Aerial Search recommendations
PostPosted: 13 Mar 2013, 11:13 
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Joined: 12/12/07
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Company: MBG Properties
Location: Knoxville, TN (KDKX)
Aircraft: 1972 Bonanza V35B
My GX60 had a grid overlay option. Are there other GPS's that have that option.

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