Hometown St. Thomas Article, October 2022
‘This training is essential’: RCAF Air and Marine Search and Rescue training continues in Elgin County
CASARA Niagara along with assistance from CASARA London recently conducted cold weather testing of our RPAS capabilities. Members from the RCAF were also in attendance. Checkout the article from the NOTL Local below.
Article by Randy Klaassen, Courtesy of the NOTL Local
CASARA LOCATES DOWNED AIRCRAFT
On the morning of July 24th, 2021, an aircraft (a PA-24 Piper Comanche) from CASARA Ottawa was engaged in training exercises just east of Ottawa. During the exercise they heard a MAYDAY call from an aircraft in distress. The distress aircraft had encountered an engine failure and advised it was going to conduct an off-airport landing.
The CASARA crew immediately contacted Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton (JRCC) to report the MAYDAY radio transmission. JRCC tasked the CASARA aircrew with a search pattern to a possible location as confirmed by an Emergency Locator Beacon (ELT) 406 Mhz hit recorded at Canadian Mission Control Centre (CMCC) CFB Trenton. The satellite signal indicated the potential crash site was near Lac Forant, Quebec which was 100 nautical miles northwest of the CASARA training area. Joining the search were two RCAF air assets, a CC-130H Hercules and a CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 424 Sqn based at CFB Trenton
As the CASARA aircraft approached the crash location they were able to electronically home to the downed aircraft’s exact position with their specialized aircraft-mounted homing equipment.
Once overhead, a communications link on VHF radio with the downed pilot was attempted with no response. Out of cell phone range, the quick thinking crew knew that they could communicate through the NavCanada Montreal Area Control Centre (ACC) to relay their position to JRCC which allowed the 424 Sqn aircraft to quickly arrive at the crash scene for the rescue.
The CASARA crew remained on scene flying overhead until RCAF aircraft arrived to begin rescue operations. The Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) from 424 Sqn Trenton were hoisted down from the Griffon helicopter to render medical assistance to the downed pilot who was subsequently hoisted onto the Griffon helicopter and flown to Pembroke Hospital. She was released from hospital later that day and has expressed her heart felt thanks to the Search and Rescue Crews.
Congratulations to CASARA Ottawa air crew and ground support for their professionalism and a job well done!
“That others may live”
Below is the flight path of the CASARA aircraft…
Below is an image of the crashed aircraft as taken from the Griffon.
JOE SANTSCHI RETIRES
On Saturday, July 17th the members of CASARA London had a BBQ at St. Thomas airport to thank Joe Santschi for his 31 years of dedicated service to CASARA and London Air Patrol. Joe was a member of the London Air Patrol 2 years before CASARA was even born. In his tenure, Joe has been in many roles including Spotter, Electronic Search Specialist, Navigator, Search Coordinator and others. Perhaps one of Joe’s most important roles has been the night shift Dispatcher, being the person that gets wakened up in the middle of the night by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) when a call for assistance comes in. He has held that role for the last 25 years. Joe’s dedication to Search and Rescue had him volunteering several hundred hours each year and would not have been possible had it not been for his very supportive wife, Norma. Over the years, Joe has been trained in winter survival and water egress training and has taken many members under his wing to inspire the next generation of CASARA London volunteers. Thank you for upholding the search and Rescue motto “that others may live” for over 3 decades.
Your friends at CASARA London/London Air Patrol
“30 Years of Search and Rescue Adventure”
Written by Randy Klaassen
Niagara local, Shane Barton, was recognized for his 30 years as a search and rescue volunteer. Recently Barton was presented an Ontario Volunteer Service Award, for 30 Years, and lately Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) Niagara awarded him with a 30 Year Wing pin.
Barton’s involvement with search and rescue began in 1979 with a ground organization. It was later at a Hamilton Airshow he learned of CASARA Niagara. When asked, Barton said, “My involvement with CASARA has been diversified, to say the least. I started as a spotter and progressed with learning aviation communications, navigation and safety.” As a member of CASARA Barton has flown as a spotter, served with ground searches, and as a driver for the unit’s mobile command vehicle.
Behind Barton’s many searches he has spent thousands of hours training. “It has been a great adventure serving with CASARA Niagara, where I’ve had opportunity to learn more each year, as technology and skills evolve. I’ve really enjoyed serving with other crew members, and engaging members of the public on enjoying outdoor activities safely.”
While CASARA volunteers are aviation focused, they are also called upon to assist with searching for persons missing on the Lakes, lost hikers, and other situations of people in distress.
CASARA Niagara has headquarters and training facility at Niagara District Airport, operating two aircraft and a mobile command vehicle. As a charitable organization the volunteers depend on donations to maintain their operations. Deemed “An Essential Service,” and using COVID protocols, CASARA volunteers have been actively training for the upcoming spring season.
Receiving his awards, Barton told his crew members, “It’s an honour to receive this 30-year pin, and I hope there is a 50-year pin, because I plan on serving for a long time to come.”
For more information on CASARA Niagara, check the website, http://caresniagara.ca.
Attached photos; credit: Randy Klaassen, CASARA Niagara, Training Officer.
Courtesy of The Local from Feb 4th 2021. Niagara on the Lake
2020. THE YEAR IN PICTURES.
Please keep sending in your photos. I will add them as I receive them.