Monthly Archive: May 2016

Rockcliffe Flying Club honours John Ferguson

Rockcliffe Flying Club honours John Ferguson

On April 15th, at its Annual Wings Dinner, the Rockcliffe Flying Club presented 2015 Safety Award to John Ferguson, Chief Pilot of CASARA Ontario Zone 12, based at the Rockcliffe Airport (CYRO).

Under the CASARA Outreach Program, John has presented the How to be a Cooperative Target seminar to several enthusiastic aviation groups in eastern Ontario. He has elicited praise for the excellence of his presentations and promotion of safety.

John is an anchor member of Zone 12, having served as Training and Operations officer for many years. As chief pilot, his focus is to make safety the primary preoccupation of all CASARA crew members.




Provincial SAR Partners prepare for yet another busy SAR season!

“More than 60 personnel from 424 (Transport and Rescue) Squadron, with their CC-130H Hercules aircraft and CH-146 Griffon helicopters, will conduct TIGEREX 2016, a search and rescue (SAR) exercise, in the Sault-Ste. Marie, Ontario area from May 9 to 13, 2016.

Throughout the week, multiple simulated SAR (search and rescue) scenarios are organized to put the skills of the SAR team to the test.  This provides 424 Squadron’s SAR crews, and the crews of partner agencies, invaluable interaction and exposure to how SAR operations are conducted and how they can better work together in responding to life-saving calls. The exercise will focus on boat and land SAR scenarios, medical exercises, as well as local emergency response procedures”.

Once again, CASARA Ontario has been invited to participate alongside our SAR partners including the Royal Canadian Air Force 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron – 8 Wing – CFB Trenton, Ontario. With them will be the JRCC (Joint Rescue Coordination Centre) from CFB Trenton, Ontario. Also working with 424 Squadron will be the 429 Combat Support Squadron from CFB Bagotville, Quebec with a CH146 Griffon helicopter. The Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, The Ontario Provincial Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the U.S. Coast Guard and local fire and emergency medical services. Joining us this year will also be CASARA zones from Nunavut and Quebec (SERABEC). 424 Squadron hold this exercise annually for the purpose of preparing themselves for the upcoming SAR season where the frequency of callouts increase substantially as the warmer weather arrives.

This exercise provides CASARA zones the unique opportunity to interact directly with our SAR Partners. The focus for CASARA will be on interoperability and the learning experience that comes with complex training scenarios – both flying and on the ground homing.

CASARA Mission Statement – The mission of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) is to support Canada’s Search and Rescue (SAR) program and to promote SAR Awareness.

CASARA Vision Statement – The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) will continue to evolve          and support the Canadian Search and Rescue (SAR) and SAR Awareness Programs through leadership, continuous training of its volunteers and education of the general aviation community.

CASARA is a national volunteer organization funded by the Department of National Defense. Our volunteers provide air search assistance to the Royal Canadian Air Force, and promote flight safety for general aviation as a means to reduce overall SAR incidents. We are pilots, navigators, spotters, search coordinators, electronic search specialists, radio operators and administration staff. We are trained to work as spotters on military aircraft, and to carry out searches using light aircraft and ground vehicles.

CASARA has been the umbrella organization for independent provincial and regional groups since 1986. CASARA operates in all 13 provinces and territories with access to 360 aircraft and 2,553 certified pilots, navigators and spotters…

If you would like more information about this topic, or are interested in joining CASARA, please check out our website at CASARA Ontario or contact Mike Daniels – President of CASARA Ontario at (905) 932-9494 or email at

National Volunteer Week; April 10-17, 2016

Last week was National Volunteer Week; 10-17 April. I want to recognize the time CASARA members are taking away from their family to support the National Search & Rescue organization. They bring their expertise and particular skills to each CASARA training session or to resolve a JRCC missions. 424 Squadron members always enjoy working alongside CASARA members to improve our operations to eventually save lives. Thank you to all your volunteers that support SAR operations in all regions 424 Squadron is covering: Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut.

La semaine dernière était la Semaine de l’action bénévole; 10-17 avril. Je tiens à souligner le temps que les membres de SERABEC prennent loin de leur famille pour soutenir l’organisation de recherche et sauvetage nationale. Ils apportent leur expertise et des compétences particulières à chaque session de formation de SERABEC ou pour résoudre une des missions de JRCC. Les membres de l’Escadron 424 bénéficient toujours de travailler aux côtés des membres de SERABEC pour améliorer nos opérations et éventuellement de sauver des vies. Merci à tous les bénévoles qui supportent les opérations SAR dans toutes les régions que l’Escadron 424 couvre: l’Ontario, le Québec et le Nunavut.


Capt Claude Courcelles
CASARA Liaison Officer, 424 T&R Sqn
Canadian Armed Forces

CASARA Ontario Assists in Arctic Training

CASARA Ontario assisted CLO Capt. Courcelles in a training mission to five Inuit communities in Nunavut, 14 to 20 October 2015. Highlights of the visit include:

  • 58 CASARA members attending academic training;
  • 48 members attending spotter training;
  • 8 hours of spotter training flown;
  • 14 hours of academic training conducted; and
  • 8 hours of CVT set up and training.

With the full support of CASARA Nunavut, the CASARA Liaison Officer for Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut, Capt. Claude Courcelles, 424 Squadron Trenton, conducted a training mission to the communities of Gjoa Haven, Hall Beach, Pond Inlet, Arctic Bay and Resolute Bay, 14 to 20 October. 440 Squadron Yellowknife provided a Twin Otter (CC 138) and crew for the duration. Capt. Courcelles requested the assistance of CASARA Ontario for this mission. Terry Nord, Standards Officer and Robert Desjardins, deputy Standards Officer joined the mission. In addition, a SAR Tech from 442 Squadron Comox completed the team.

At each location, the program included the filling of membership application form, personal information sheet and medical self-declaration. A two to three-hour academic training was held, focused on survival and spotting techniques and practice. This was followed by one or two one hour long flights, with up to nine spotters per flight. The first segment of the flight included flights along the runway at 1000ft and 1500ft altitude in order for spotters to get their bearings for one mile and three-mile range spotting. A live target with one or two simulated victims, ELT and visual target at each location improved the spotters’ experience. All participants made one call around. Because of weather, members in Resolute Bay were unable to fly. The visit was complemented with the setting up of CASARA Virtual Trainers (CVT), which had been delivered a year earlier, but had been left unfortunately unused. Fortunately, in each community, we were able to identify a capable person able to become the CVT trainer/operator.

These meetings were held at the local hamlet hall, fire station or school. They were attended by the local zone commander, members and prospective members

Major progress was noted on the ability of members to do call arounds. The one available headset per flight was passed from one spotter to the next. This was not ideal but gave each spotter a better experience. Most members appeared more vocal and demonstrated better understanding of their role in bringing the plane around. We understand that the Nunavut region is holding a number of headsets, which we believe should be distributed among the various units.

For the entire mission, the numbers show 58 CASARA members attending academic training, 48 members attending spotter training, 8 hours of spotter training flown, 14 hours of academic training conducted and eight hours of CVT work done.

Opportunity was created and used to start entering members’ information in CMS. That should put Nunavut in good stead in taking ownership of the process.

The contribution by 440 Squadron Yellowknife was exceptional. Major Lowther and his crew were most forthcoming and accommodating. The CC138 again proved to be a perfectly suited search platform.

By: Robert Desjardins

Deputy Standards Officer