Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A night with the Canadian Military

With a title like that, how can a girl say no?

With that in mind, E and I headed off to Oshawa airport for the latest Transport Canada Safety Seminar. With such a title I had high hopes that this one would be better than the last one I attended. At least there was the potential for some decent eye candy!

The main topic of the evening was Search and Rescue Services and in particular how the new 406 MHz ELTs function, and why they are so much better than the traditional 121.5 beacons.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with ELTS, basically the old ones were emergency beacons that when activated make a horrible warbling sound on 121.5 on your radio.

The idea is that, where possible, you should be monitoring 121.5, so if a beacon goes off somewhere then a plane will pick it up and let someone know. I haven’t looked at the regs but it wouldn’t surprise me if you had a legal obligation to report it.

The problem is that Canada is a stupidly large country. I mean insanely large. So large that I still can’t get my head round it, even after living here for 8 years. And an ELT beacon can be anywhere. You are talking a radius of hundreds of kilometres. Also as one of the speakers pointed out rather wryly “you guys like to fly white planes……….in winter”. In Canada realistic search and rescue targets are measured in days.

So the 406 beacons talk to satellites and actually pinpoint your location to hundreds of metres rather than hundreds of kilometres. They are also registered, so that if one goes off, the guys at Trenton actually know who it is.

There was a reasonable amount of discussion about the importance of keeping the “registered to” details current with the handy hint that if it is you flying the plane then perhaps the primary contact ought to be someone different, duh!

The final bit (and the most fun in my opinion) was given by an actual Search and Rescue Technician (SARTech). Basically the guy who gets to jump out the back of a Hercules and comes to your rescue.
It was kind of interesting to see what he keeps in his backpack. He carries enough stuff to keep himself and a patient alive for 24 hours. It might be that they dump him out the back of the plane while they figure out how to actually reach you. His kit is definitely not TSA approved, containing at least six different ways of starting a fire and an insanely large machete.

In all it was a very useful evening, culminating in a deal being struck between E and myself.
You see while both of us are appreciative of decent eye candy, she was rather more taken with the JRCC commander and his incredibly easy on the ear Quebecois accent. I will admit there is something about a guy with a sexy accent and the ability to launch a fleet of aircraft on his whim.

Anyways we agreed that if I ever got a 406 beacon, I’d put her down as my emergency contact so she could talk to the nice man but she had to promise to make him send the cute SARTech.

Seems reasonable n’est ce pas?

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