The three survivors float in the open sea in waterlogged life jackets, wilting under the brutal sun, weak, despairing, losing hope. No drinking water, no food, no land in sight, no chance of survival.
Then a Britten-Norman Islander spotter airplane roars overhead. The Coast Guard! Salvation!
Just 50 meters away, the audience cheers.
Well, yes. This was a Search and Rescue demonstration at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
The Philippine Coast Guard was scheduled to do SAR demos on Saturday only.
They hoisted volunteers from the audience by winch into the rescue helicopter.
This was so much fun that we did it again on Sunday.
When they asked for volunteers, my intrepid son Julio was right there.
It was cool. After the Islander marked the locationwith flares, the Messerschmitt-Bolkow Bo-105 helicopter arrived over the “survivors”.
Each volunteer was winched up into the helicopter, one at a time, clutched safely in the arms of a rescue specialist.
Julio was the last to be rescued. It turns out that after a survivor is winched aboard, the helicopter flies away and makes another approach, to avoid rotor downwash on the remaining survivors.
Imagine you’re the last one, sharks are closing in, weather worsening, but after your friends are winched aboard, the helicopter flies away…
“Wait for me!” 😀
But it only takes seconds for the chopper to come back, and the rescue crewman is ready again.
This must be a fun ride!
The Bolkow flew off with my rescued son, made a couple of low passes with the Islander, and we went on to the next event.
Julio didn’t appear until an hour later, cool and loose from his helicopter ride.
LTJG Christine D. arranged the demo with us, and did the commentary on some of the demonstrations.
In another demo. Captains Ezra H., a newly-minted helicopter pilot and Xavier E., her instructor at Airworks, displayed hover and pattern maneuvers in front of the crowd.
Except that the instructor was not inside the helicopter.
Ezra, flying a Robinson R-22, followed hand signals from Xavier, who was on the ground. It was almost like Xavier was flying the aircraft like a genie, merely pointing to where he wanted the helicopter to magically appear next.
Of course it was really Ezra, in the cockpit, making it happen.
Which just goes to prove that women are really in charge, but men are smarter than helicopters!
Or something like that 😀
We had a lot of helicopters at the show — Air Force and Coast Guard Reserve, civilian, even US Marine CH-46 Sea Knights that were passing by 🙂
The airplane pilots among us watched them with wary skepticism.
A gazillion moving parts, ‘wings’ flapping in circles, rotor blades changing angles every split second, the entire caboodle teetering on the edge of controlled flight, with all the control inputs backwards.
Ask any airplane pilot: helicopters are beyond comprehension, and fly only because they are so ugly the earth repels them 😀
But then again, if you need to be rescued at sea… .
‘Shipwrecked survivors” pose with PCG’s LCDR Tito Alvin A., pilot in command, PO3 Eugene B., crew chief and hoist operator, and SN1 Harold B., Rescuer
Photos by Carlo, Pinky and the Philippine Coast Guard
Posted from Guangzhou, Mar 25, 2008