The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) will be welcoming seven new members soon and asking anyone else who cares to join to come out and get trained.
CASARA is a volunteer aviation association that runs across Canada. It’s primary goal is aviation safety and aids in searches for lost planes.
“If a pilot goes on a flight, they must do a flight plan. If he doesn’t arrive, they assume he has gone down. They notify CASARA in the area and we go up and do a search. If we find him, a ground crew goes down to the crash sight, but if it is an area that a ground crew can’t access then the Buffalo comes in,” says Kendall Duce.
The Buffalo Search Airplane is a large plane that has site technician’s who will jump out in order to access the crash sight.
Golden’s CASARA crew does a practice round every month in order to train spotters and navigators. A spotter must have three hours of academic training and two hours of flight time per year to be certified. In order for a navigator to be certified, they must have four hours training and four flights.
“Navigators do spotting and record keeping,” says Bernie Scheisser, one of two Golden pilots for CASARA, “a spotter tries to see if they can see anything on the ground. When doing a search, we fly with six spotters, three lined up on each side and every twenty minutes they switch who is spotting. This way they stay alert.”
Being part of CASARA is not largely time consuming and is mostly a matter of being certified and ready. “It takes a lot of people to make sure everything is ready. There could be 40 people certified, but not all those people can always leave when a search is called in. So it is important for us to have a lot of people certified.” Says Duce.
In reality, Golden does less than one search a year although Schiesser says he has done searches around Kamloops, Revelstoke and Pemberton.
“We search in quadrants, usually 60×60 square km. We search that area. Because we are in the mountains, it’s more likely that we would search one valley and another group would search another valley.”
On May 9, there will be an academic training day in Golden to train seven new people who wish to volunteer with CASARA. The 15th will be a flying day for those involved. If anyone else would like to join and begin training with CASARA on the 9th, call Kendall Duce at 250-344-7055.