Many people think paramotoring is not a practical platform for search and rescue. I have met several so far. They say the available hours and weather conditions are too restrictive. They say that the chances of it ever being used are remote. The sport seems to be full of people that think that. There are a few exceptions like Kurt Dugger who posted this great video on YouTube that points out the possibilities. I'll put a link at the bottom.
And given the fact there are very few people actively trying to use a paramotor for SAR at present and the scarcity of research and viable search and rescue situations, not to mention cooperative weather conditions, it is easy to understand their negativism. But actually, the practicality of it is somewhat beside the point. We have fire stations at every major airport who specialize in responding to airplane crashes and outfit themselves with expensive equipment that is good for little else. Some airport firefighters go their entire careers without ever putting out a fire from an airplane that has crashed. Glad for that! But if you have the resources and the willing personnel to build a search and rescue organization using a paramotor and will do it for free, why would you discourage it. It makes little sense to just shoot it down outright. It shows a lack of imagination on the part of the naysayers.
We all know that flying a paramotor is infrequent for many if not most paramotor pilots because of the seasons or lack of local facilities or difficulty coordinating with others to meet and go flying. The long drive to a suitable launch site is always a gamble because conditions can be different there than indicated on internet weather programs. Using the same airport or launch space becomes boring for many people after they have flown it several times. The novelty wears off. The very nature of slow speed flight keeps most people from wandering off very far for fear they will not be able to get back to the landing zone. The challenge subsides and with lack of experience, fear dampens enthusiasm. So, what can take paramotor flight and give it new life, new blood, new stimulation. That would be developing new skills that you can practice to perfection and that are not death defying in nature like aerobatics. Skills that keep the pilot engaged with others and can be measured for competitive purposes. That is exactly what ASAR search and rescue flying does. Imagine you are tasked with searching a specific area, a specific pattern and recording the sighting of certain targets, kind of like "Hide and Seek" in the air. Imagine you are a ground support specialist, or a medic and you are tasked with locating a downed pilot, climbing a tree, setting up for extrication and the like. Imagine you are the operations specialist and you are tasked with studying the area to be searched, setting up a search pattern on the computer and directing the pilot to follow it as well as control communications with the search members. Kinda beats going up and looking around at the same old stuff. Especially if you are not really into aerobatics.
Imagine now, that for training purposes your team plots out a ten square mile section of your local rural area bordered by roads and natural barriers such as like lakes and rivers and studies the terrain looking for potential launch and landing sites and special hazards to a coordinated airborne and waterborne search. You develop a search pattern for the area and then one day the team does a full-blown exercise using boats, ATVs, dogs whatever other assets they have put together as their team skill set. Team members meet in the command center at the search base site at the crack of dawn, drink coffee and strategize. The paramotor is set up and launches. The chase boat or land vehicle is manned by the medic and volunteer helper and junior team member. Ground support person readies the command center and trailer for quick redeployment if needed. Ops is monitoring the pilots flight path and giving navigation directions to the pilot. The search is on and specific targets are located and recorded by radio. Locations noted, actions logged and so on.
In an hour or so the search is over. Imagine posting a post-search debriefing, the results of the search online in the form of videos and interviews of the participants for others to watch, learn and emulate. Videos of a group breakfast with people talking about what worked and what didn't and who did good, etc. High fives all around. That is how you never get bored flying a paramotor or honing your skills in an airborne search and rescue scenario. You become the local go to experts with respect to those areas you have familiarized yourself with as well as the search techniques you developed during the exercise. Now that is a challenge. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that? You not only have fun and improve your skills; you have the respect of the local community and you are providing a valuable service. So just do it!
Watch Kurt's video on the advantages of a paramotor in SAR. Click here
What do we do?
How do we do it?
"Pierson traffic - Red Angel One has cleared the search pattern and RTB at this time."