Monday, January 23, 2012

Cessna 210: Safety-conscious pilot praised for helping rescuers speed to British Columbia crash scene

Rescuers in British Columbia are praising the pilot of a small plane for decisions they say helped make a difficult and dangerous rescue a little easier.

Canadian Forces Search and Rescue pilot Capt. John Edwards says the pilot of the Cessna 210 was using a flight tracker system which requires routine radio check-in.

When the single-engine plane with four people aboard missed one of those checks at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, a local search began almost immediately over Big Creek Provincial Park, 130 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake.

The plane also carried an emergency locator beacon, leading private teams and two Canadian Forces aircraft right to the crash site — a measure that one rescue technician says gave crews more time to concentrate on safely parachuting through blustery winds to the remote scene.

Just hours after the Cessna went down, three of the four people on a wildlife tracking mission were out of the aircraft and being helicoptered to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Crews needed a little longer to pry a fourth person from the wreckage, but that victim is now recovering from unspecified injuries, and Edwards says the pilot's strict schedule and use of key equipment were keys to everyone's survival.

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