SAR Fundamentals/Helicopter


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[edit] Subject

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Helicopter in SAR

[edit] Authors

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Brett Wuth

[edit] Scope

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SAR Fundamentals Manual: Ch.29 "Helicopter in SAR"
Basic SAR Skills Manual: F-6 "Helicopter Operations"

[edit] Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson the participants:

  1. will be able to ...

[edit] Time Plan

Total Time: 45 minutes

  • 2005-02: 60 min
  • 2011-03: 42 min
  • 2013-02: 43 min

Time Material


3 min

Introduce topic title

Introduce Instructor

Present Objectives


play Helicoper Operation video - both parts

  • starts at 16min in Title 2 of DVD - after Ground SAR Operations
  • ends at 35min in Title 2 of DVD - before Hug-a-Tree

Use of helicopter in SAR?

  • rescue evacuation
  • transport searchers, rescuers
  • spotting, infrared
  • area orientation


  • may be dropped off on a peak, lonely spot
  • may have to walk out
  • often limited by weather
  • warmer air is thinner, less lift

Some stuff may have to go in tail storage

  • bear spray
  • pressurized containers
  • flares
  • fire starter
  • stove

  • exit/enter
    • down hill slide
    • still in pilot's sight
    • still not towards rear

distribute STARS LZ card

creating landing zone

  • may have to set up for a rescue, or at search base
  • appoint LZ officer
  • large open area, eg. 40m x 40m
  • avoid overhead area
  • consider approach and exit via wind direction
  • clean area
    • pack down snow with snowmobiles
  • keep all people away


  • stand center of up-wind side of LZ
  • make sure you don't have anything that will fly away
    • take off hat
  • keep eye on area for anything unsafe
    • wave off helicopter if unsafe
  • landing/takeoff
    • hands straight up
    • kneel as helicopter gets closer
    • do not move away, helicopter will follow you


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[edit] License

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Copyright (c) 2012, Brett Wuth. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Canada License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.

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[edit] Notes

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  • landing zones
    • what to expect as helicopter coming in
    • trust pilot
    • hand signals
  • slinging gear in / out
  • loading helicopter
    • stacks of gear
    • using people to keep weight down
  • hearing protection
  • theory of operations
    • how they get lift
    • temperature
  • identify types of helicopters and their abilities
  • different services and abilities, e.g STARS and Alpine
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