Crews will simulate a large scale operation for missing aircraft out of Red Deer Airport

Search and rescue exercise at Red Deer Airport this weekend

A training exercise will simulate a large scale search operation for a missing aircraft out of Red Deer Airport this weekend, weather permitting.

The Western Canada Search and Rescue Exercise will simulate a lost aircraft in the Central Alberta region of Carstairs, the Rockies, Drayton Valley, Rimbey, Forestberg and Three Hills.

Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) Red Deer Zone is hosting the large scale event. Jim Thoreson, CASARA zone training officer for Central Alberta, said aircrews from Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C. – totalling to more than 85 people will participate in the exercise.

About 20 aircrafts will be part of the exercise including Cessna 182s, Cessna 172s, and a 417 Combat Support Squadron Griffon helicopter from Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake.

The Red Deer resident said such large scale exercises are vital to be proactive and safe because people’s lives can depend on it.

“There’s certain things we’re required to do in order to be efficient and expeditious and if a plane goes down people could be hurt, lying out there, and we need to know what to do and how to do and as fast as we can do it.”

Thoreson said navigators, pilots, spotters, among other aircrews, will be part of the event and learn about everything they should do in a major search.

“People will learn how to fly on the edges of the mountains, how to fly in the Prairies, how to fly during a search, and how to spot targets and how to treat targets when we find them,” said Thoreson.

The event starts Friday with a mass briefing at the Harvard Park officer’s mess building at 8 p.m. During the meeting, crews will be briefed on the overall operation and will receive assigned tasks for the next day.

Saturday morning will begin with a weather briefing and an updated briefing for their flights for the day.

Sunday morning will be a repeat of Saturday exercise except crews will complete their tasks by noon and take part in a debriefing before heading home.

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