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Page Title: Sighting and Identification (Ref(a), pg. 619)
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Scanner's Position. Scanners forced to look into the sun or its path lose visual acuity and can easily
fail to detect a search object. The sun's position (azimuth and elevation) relative to the scanner influences
the target's detectability. The target appears as a dark silhouette against a bright background, and color is
difficult to distinguish. When a target is viewed down range (down sun), haze and glare are less of a
problem, colors are more easily distinguished, and target/background contrast are more easily observed.
Sighting and Identification (Ref(a), pg. 619). During a large search, many objects other than the actual
search target may be sighted. Diverting from search to identify sighted objects diminishes the uniformity
of search area coverage regardless of the navigation accuracy. On the other hand, objects sighted other
than the actual search object may offer clues if properly interpreted.
When a large vessel goes down suddenly, the scene may be littered with considerable debris and a
large oil slick, usually traveling downwind of the origin. Boats and rafts will usually be downwind of the
debris. Persons in the water may be found clinging to floating objects. Lifeboats from large vessels are
normally equipped with emergency radios. If more than one lifeboat was launched, they can be expected to
be grouped or tied together to make sighting easier.
Aircraft should not change altitude on relocation passes to present the same picture to the scanners.
Altitude changes may also conflict with other SRUs. A 90-270 procedure turn or survivor relocation
pattern is recommended to over-fly the same position and retain search integrity. See paragraph 810 for
survivor relocation pattern procedures.
If survivors are sighted, SRU's should maintain visual contact with the survivors and inform them
they have been sighted using a radio or flying low with landing lights on. If immediate rescue is not
possible, SRU should determine the position using several NAVAIDS. A survivor sighting report should
be made as soon as possible to the OSC including the following information:
Survivor identity
Condition of survivors
Wind, weather, and sea conditions
Hours of SRU on scene endurance
Emergency equipment received, used or needed by the survivors.
On Scene Operations. On scene operations will begin with execution of the Operational Descent
Checklist, followed by either the Pre-search Checklist or Pre-drop Checklist depending on the situation.
The Operational Descent Checklist addresses the Aircraft Commander's operational descent briefing
including: airspeed, minimum descent altitude, personal floatation device requirements, and aircraft
configuration. If a search is required, the Pre-search Checklist will be accomplished which addresses the
Aircraft Commander's search briefing including: thorough description of search target, emergency
equipment required (flares &/or SAR equipment ), and aircraft configuration. Once the search object has
been located, a Pre-Drop Checklist, if required, will be accomplished. There are several critical phases of
flight on-scene, which are thoroughly addressed in the following paragraphs.
Crew Coordination/Operations Below a 1000 feet AGL. Because there is no room for error during
high-speed low altitude passes, crew coordination/team work in the cockpit is essential. Coast Guard SAR
drops and rigs are normally accomplished at 200' AGL. The airspeed will depend on which fixed wing asset
(HU-25A or HC-130H) being flown. Lower passes maybe flown as required at the Aircraft Commander's
discretion (i.e. obtain vessel's name and homeport, close look at vessel's condition, etc.). However, in the
training command, we are restricted to a minimum altitude of 500' AGL. Before any low altitude operations
(drops or rigs), the crew must be briefed on minimum altitudes and airspeeds, low altitude emergency
contingencies, and outside doctrine. A typical brief sounds as follows: "Monitor the instruments and call
out any unusual attitudes. After the second callout, if I do not respond, assume I have vertigo and take
control of the aircraft. Call me 10 knots slow from our target speed. While operating below 1000' AGL, we
will marry up our barometric altimeters to our radar altimeter, and call out our altitude and rate of descent

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