Updated: Dec 9, 2019
In the short time I have been flying something has become glaringly apparent. And glaring is the right word. Morning searches are going to be better all around than are sunset searches for a couple of sound reasons. Morning searches are going to be more probable in any event because night fall usually determines the severity of the situation. Persons missing after dark for no apparent good reason is a definitive turning point in any potential rescue emergency situation. Searching at sunrise gives the search team hours to prepare for the search. At sunrise you will usually have a lot of blue light which filters out glare.
Everyone who has dabbled in photography knows that mornings are blue and evenings are yellow-orange. This yellow orange hue makes it hard to distinguish things on the ground, especially in the fall and winter when the colors on the ground are brownish and subdued. You may notice that when scanning the horizon you rarely shield your eyes at sunrise but almost always do at sunset. Polarized sunglasses can add to the problem by making it difficult or impossible to read your phone screen if you are using it for your navigation instruments. Avionics is critical for low level flight and following search patterns.
Also, in the morning your head tends to be clearer. You react faster and miss less. Your pre-flight check is more focused and you are generally more confident. I recently did a sunset flight and I knew I was tired. I missed some things on my takeoff check mental check list. I couldn't focus on things clearly and even though I was wanting to see a nice sunset, the whole thing wasn't as much fun as I imagined and I decided to come down early. Just bad vibes all around.
At sunset, with the clock ticking and the approach of darkness, a search operation can be hurried and we all know that haste can be fatal in the aviation world. Add to that the fact that if anything does go wrong and the pilot goes down or is forced to land at a different landing site, or if any other team member is injured in the chase, you will be working and searching for him or her in the dark. Even more of a reason for the team to have good area familiarization and safety equipment. And a good excuse to go and fly and chase in some hard-to-reach, out of the way, beautiful areas that you wouldn't normally fly over. "Area familiarization" is one of the most important aspects of search and rescue and it is also one of the most challenging and fun aspects of ASAR. More on that in a different article.
A few quick notes on the ASAR National website. Please feel free to contact me with questions if you are considering putting a team together. It might be helpful to go ahead and get the easier aspects of the team in place, like starting a blog site or vlog channel and creating a shoulder patch insignia. Find an area you want to search and be a specialist in and pull up the pictures on Google Earth. Then get the Sectionals (click here) for the area
and study them so that you can speak with authority. The Sectionals look formidable the first time you see them but they are actually pretty simple and straightforward once you get the hang of it. There are numerous videos on reading Sectionals on YouTube. Here is a link to the chart legend for the aeronautical sectional charts (click here). Study them together as a team and then go fly them.
On another note. There is also an outfit called "Tree Climbers International" that offers classes on tree climbing. I plan on taking the 1-day course in the near future along with my team medic, Terry and my ground support member. It is held in Atlanta, Georgia. I'll post a vlog and a blog article when I have done it and let you know what we learned and was it worth it. We will probably incorporate the training into or future rope training classes. BTW, it is my intention to give all of my ASAR classes for free at Pierson Municipal Airport in the near future. I have started negotiations with the town of Pierson to set up a small training center there.
Let me know what you think on these subjects. Make constructive comments and suggestions that we can discuss. Send me a cease and desist email if you want to opt out of these emails. If on the other hand you enjoy these blogs and think the content is valuable, please help ASAR National get formed up and forward these articles to other interested parties.
What do we do?
How do we do it?
"Ground Support - Red Angel One - Search complete - RTB."