Sorry for not putting out more content recently but life has a way of getting in the way. But to update you readers, I am in the process of laying out some very exciting search areas for training for the spring. The launch center would most likely be Pierson Field in Pierson, Florida but there are a couple of surrounding air strips that I am looking into. The basic idea is to lay out a search pattern along the St Johns river with a rescue boat escort for those wanting to see what it is like to search along a river or waterway. These are likely places for persons to go missing. Only recently did we have a drowning of a kayaker on one of the lakes nearby. He wasn't found until the following day of his disappearance. Sadly, there wasn't much anybody could have done but there will be times when a search will make a difference.
Currently, the search patterns that I am designing run from Pierson Field to the east side of lake George and then south down the St Johns to Astor. If conditions were good you could continue on with your search as far as lake Woodruff or even Spring Garden lake following the river. There you will land and be picked up. A rescue pontoon boat will escort you directly below the entire way down the river in case of an emergency ditching. All flyers must wear life vests, be able to swim and have their equipment fitted out with some kind of flotation device and other appropriate safety equipment. Targets will be listed along the way and the pilots will need to photograph the targets to get credit for a "save." Think of it as a scavenger hunt from the air.
Another course will lay to the north along the east side of lake George around Drayton island and on towards Welaka. There are several private air strips in the area that are private or used to ship ornamentals that are grown in the area and I hope to get something set up with them in regards to using their runways for landing. Mt Royal airport near Georgetown/Welaka is a federally funded, public airstrip with limited access being inside a gated community. There shouldn't be any issues with using it as a landing site for pilot pickup. We are acquainted with some of the community members so I am looking into that just to keep things friendly and everybody happy.
Both of these course patterns are about 25 miles and should take between 1 and 1.5 hours to fly with minimal wind coming out of the NE quadrant. Persons interested in flying or setting up or being a part of this operation should contact me via email using the contact button on the website or by leaving a comment below. All sorts of ground support is welcome. If you want to train your ground support team in forming a water chase team, then get involved in this training. Bring your ideas and equipment to test it out. Communications and location systems are especially helpful and needed for testing.
I have not flown these courses yet because currently I fly alone in this area and I need the same kind of ground support but I am working on it. I am modifying my pontoon boat with a gin pole wench on the bow to lift equipment out of the water should that be necessary. It will also contain other rescue gear that may be needed. Two or three pilots should be able to fly this course at the same time during the morning and evening windows. Morning is preferred.
If you know other teams or pilots that are interested in this type of flying, please send them a link to this article. If you have ideas on how to make this better, please leave them below in the comment section.
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