History of Helicopter Search and Rescue Operations

Through SAR, people in distress or danger are identified and retrieved, provided with first aid or other needs and delivered to a place of safety. SAR is further subdivided on the basis of terrain considerations. They include ground search and rescue, mountain rescue as well as combat search and rescue and air rescue above the water. In the United States, SAR is undertaken by the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC). Example of well documented SAR efforts includes Dutch Merchant Ship called Vergulde Draeck wreck in 1656 in of West Coast Australia, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 that was shot by Soviet aircraft in 1983. However, no survivors were found in both rescue missions.Helicopters are the most important aircraft used in search and rescue (SAR) missions both on land and waters. The use of aircraft during SARs operations is traced back to the early 1940s when helicopters were introduced into the airspace. It was intensively used during World War II. During World War II, the Sikorsky helicopter was used in combat rescue missions and airmen forced down by enemies during war. The rescues were done by landing the helicopters. However, the first documented civilian helicopter hoist rescue in the aviation industry was on November 29, 1945, using the Sikorsky R-5 helicopter. Two men were stranded in Fairfield, Connecticut on an oil barge and faced the imminent danger of being washed overboard following a violent storm, high tides, snow and rain that afflicted East Coast of the United States of America. Landing for the helicopter was impossible. Luckily, luck smiled on them and they were hoisted to safety by Sikorsky R-5 helicopter (Sikorsky n .d.).The idea of pulling a person out of danger by hoist or cable was new in 1945 but become a reality when the two stranded persons were hoisted to safety in 1945. Unlike in the 1940s when helicopters were only able to rescue one person at a time, today’s helicopters like the HH-60J Jayhawk have the ability to rescuer about 26 people including the rescue crew.