Introduction to Ultralight Airplanes

Search and Rescue Aircraft In Ultralight Aviation

Aren't search and rescue operations performed only by large military aircraft? What's the common between search and rescue and ultralights? Read on and you'll find out.

In most cases search and rescue operations are performed by military helicopters or special search & rescue helicopters. Here are some notable models:

And there are many more of course. These are all large and mostly military helicopters. What about using ultralights?

Using Ultralight Trikes in Search and Rescue Operations

Big Sky Kauai ultralight crash

Ultralights are used in search and rescure operations especially in cases where the larger aircraft are not appropriate. Most often for this are used the ultralight trikes. Trikes are small and can be stored in garages which allows them to be used in remote areas without airpots. They can sustain high wind. They can land almost anywhere - in fields, dirt roads, lawns.

Trikes are affordabe too and this makes them great for amateur search and rescue operations. You can personally go for seach and rescue with your own trike without waiting the municipal forces or other community services.

Of course ultralights aren't suitable for everything. They can help you find someone in trouble and bring them some food, water, medicine or communication. You can't however pick a wounded person when you are flying a single-seat Part 103 ultralight aircraft. Even two-seat airplines and trikes aren't always appropriate if the person can't sit or there are more people to rescue.

For most other cases trikes, ultralight helicopters, and even fixed wing ultralights are excellent because of their small size, low noise levels and affordability.

There are volunteers who perform search and rescue even with ultralight paraglider (paramotor). Check out this guy's notable story and you'll learn about the limitations and advantages of going this route.

What About Education?

Obviously nothing stops you to just jump on your aircraft and start searching. But some training can greatly improve the efficiency of your operation. Most of the companies who offer such kind of training are offering it with the idea that you may work for a community of government search and rescue service. Don't let this discourage you - the education will be useful even if you want to just voluteer or be prepared for everything in an remote area for example. Such education should teach you at least the following:

  • How to handle an emergency and forced landing
  • How to alert the global search and rescue system via MAYDAY or PAN calls
  • What survival equipment is suitable and how to use it
  • How to actually search for someone in trouble

The cost of such training varies really a lot so I suggest you search locally and check the offers.

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