LandSAR benefits from airshow

Ed Taylor (left) has presented Rich Raynes with NVG for helicopter crew members.

The job of members of the Wanaka Search and Rescue cliff rescue team (LandSAR) is about to become safer thanks to this year’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

The Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust has announced a donation of more than $8000 to fund the purchase of night vision gear for the team. The money comes from the surplus posted following this year’s airshow.

Cliff rescue team leader Rich Raynes says that while those flying the helicopter already have night vision gear, cliff rescue team members in the back of the machine are often left searching literally in the dark.

“Having this equipment will mean we can assist the pilot and crew up front with locating a specific target and maintaining a good search pattern,” he says.

“It’s also important that we are involved in ensuring a good location, terrain and hazard assessment is made before we get out of the helicopter by either landing or winch. Having this night vision gear will ensure best practice when it comes to this aspect of each mission.”

Because of the additional risks involved, night search and rescue operations are not undertaken lightly, and each one is assessed individually before a decision is made to go out in the dark, says Rich.

“Having this gear will not mean we will necessarily be conducting more night rescues but it means that when we do go up at night we will have more eyes able to contribute to the mission.”

Ed Taylor, Warbirds Over Wanaka Community Trust general manager, says there’s a good fit between the two organisations. “Safety is our number one priority at Warbirds and it’s great to know that if any of our pilots and aircraft do get into trouble in the mountains that Search and Rescue is there, fully equipped and ready to help.”

At the next Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow during Easter 2018 the organisation will be celebrating its 30th anniversary.


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