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Thread: SAR, what not to do!!!

  1. #1

    Default SAR, what not to do!!!

    HELP, should really mean that you need help.

    Location: Johnson Glacier, Tok Area
    Case Number: 08-85619
    Type: SAR
    Text: On 9/9/08 at approximately 1200 hours, AWT in Tok was notified by
    a local air-taxi service that their pilots had observed the word "HELP"
    written in rocks on a tarp near a group of hunters located in the Alaska
    Range near the Johnson Glacier. The air-taxi was trying to pick up the
    hunters but was unable to land or remain in the area due to high winds
    and advised they had dropped a note to the hunters telling them to walk
    to a lower airstrip. The hunters were identified as Ronald Leithead, 60
    yoa of Juneau and his son, Daniel R. Leithead, 42 yoa of Kodiak. No AWT
    aircraft were able to make it to the area due to the extreme winds and
    high altitude. The RCC in Anchorage was notified and launched an HH-60
    helicopter and HC-130 refueling tanker to respond. At approximately
    1630 hours the crew of the helicopter made contact with the hunters who
    advised there was nothing wrong. The hunters stated they thought
    spelling out "HELP" was the pre-arranged signal with the air-taxi
    meaning they wanted to be picked up where they were and not the lower strip.
    The hunters elected to continue walking to the lower airstrip.
    Author: BWJ9
    Received Thursday, September 11, 2008 8:11 AM and posted Thursday, September 11, 2008 8:44 AM

  2. #2


    "Here, looking for pickup."

  3. #3
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Eagle River

    Default Good reminder...

    that in our various outdoor pursuits, there is some variable risk; to ourselves, to those in our party and at times, to those who might be called upon to aid us. SAR folks, civilian and military, are people too.

    (Lt Gen) Norton Schwartz, then commander of the Alaskan Command, speaking of Ak Nat Guard and Civil Air Patrol resources of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, said it very well in a 2002 commentary (Anchorage Daily News, April 30, 2002), including the following:

    There are tremendous opportunities for exceptional outdoor activities in the great state of Alaska. Get out and enjoy it all, but do it safely. If you need us, we'll be there with all the skill, dedication and courage it takes to conduct a rescue. But we owe it to the men and women who willingly execute these rescue missions, and their families, to ensure they don't have to test their lifesaving and survival skills quite so often.

  4. #4


    I think that is a politically correct way of saying, "use your freaking head"! Personally if I were Gen Schwartz, I would definitely had more harsh tones. That's probably why I will never make general though!
    Loving God, Loving People, Loving America--Serving All Three

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Eagle River, AK


    An example should be made of such idiots. maybe garnish their PFDs for the cost of a HH-60 and C-130 going out there to HELP them. People need to be held responsible for actions that might endanger the lives of rescuers when there is no emergency. A rented sat phone helps clear up such issues with air taxis, etc, instead of making large distress signals.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Boy I dont buy it. No one is so stupid as to think HELP means a routine pickup. They were lazy pure and simple and didnt want to walk to a new strip or wait for the winds to die down. They need to be charged for the flight..... Just in case there is anyone so stupid the air service should remind everyone they drop off that they will be back WEATHER PERMITTING and that it is their responsibility to be available when the weather clears.
    Last edited by Sollybug; 09-17-2008 at 13:28. Reason: sp
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear


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