Formed some 15 years ago by members of a private flying club. The pilots, who held private pilots licences, were discussing how they wished they could use their aircraft more productively for the needs of others.
They drew on inspiration from other countries, particularly our friends over the pond.
In the USA, there was, and still is, an organisation called the Civil Air Patrol, whereby, civil pilots act as Eyes in the Sky for the emergency services and US government bodies. Bush fires, lost hikers, car crashes, traffic jams, missing vessels.
The flying community report back to the authorities and give real time updates of what is happening. "Why cant we have something like that in the UK and they mused.
Fast forward to 2016 and Air Search exists in the UK serving just that purpose.
We are strictly governed by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority); we must abide by the law and Air Navigation Order at all times. Once we have found our target or tasking we will report our findings back to the relevant agency
We are not trying to interfere and are not "wannabes", and we are most certainly not a replacement for the highly skilled and immensely well trained Police, Air Ambulances, or HM Coastguard SAR teams, although they are aware of our existence and acknowledge the assistance we try to offer.
Due to these times of austerity, with the disbandment of military search and rescue helicopters in 2015 and Police helicopter bases being closed or amalgamated, resources are now spread very thinly across the country. These Emergency Services aircraft are also extremely costly to buy and operate and any increase to the very few still operating would be at a huge cost to the taxpayer.
Air Search freely acknowledges that it doesn’t have the equipment, skills or training to carry out the tasks regularly undertaken by the professional emergency services. We are not a primary emergency rescue service, but could be considered a secondary responder under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
However, Air Search, can provide a much cheaper resource for simple search and observation tasks, using local knowledge and aircraft that are perfectly adequate for this role. Our aircraft are radio equipped and have GPS navigation systems to help pinpoint locations.
Air Search's primary function is to provide 'Eyes in the Sky' to help the Emergency Services and local authorities fulfill their humanitarian, community or statutory role. We work with the Emergency Services, HM CoastGuard, local authorities and Resilience Forums, Lowland Search and Rescue Teams, the RNLI, Environment Agency, Maritime Volunteer Service and many other major professional and voluntary agencies. We have working agreements with a number of these organisations. Air Search volunteers are just ordinary people who want to do something useful while enjoying their flying, to put something back into the community.
Our aircraft include fixed wing aircraft, rotary wing aircraft (helicopters and autogyros) and microlights.
We do not participate in "Rescues" in terms of conventional SAR (Search & Rescue). We do not hoist people from sinking ships or land to rescue them.
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