What Would a Rescue Plane Pilot Do?

So I’m finally getting around to the sample adventure in METTLE Core, kind of a mashup of Matango and Gilligan’s Island. There’s one setting interaction I am unsure about, and it is what happens when the search plane comes by. There are several ways to signal it, which should not be an issue. The plane cannot land, but is looking for them specifically.

I’m thinking it drops a package with a handheld shortwave radio, water, and some chocolate bars and then flies back, picking them up later in a rescue boat. BUT of course this ain’t exactly my field of business so I want to see if that would pass as realistic…

Hi! This is my field. I was trained in Search and Rescue (SAR) as both military and defence assistance to civil community, and operated several SAR elements including HQ Air Command’s liaison for the search for MH370. Happy to answer any questions about this, so here’s a few responding to yours:

Primarily, the first aircraft isn’t going to do anything. Dropping stuff from SAR aircraft is rare, because they tend to be fast and flying at efficient altitudes (ie as high as they can while still seeing what they’re looking for - searching for the titanic you can fly higher than searching for a dude in an inflatable). Primarily, they’re going to take notes. Information is their goal.

Also, aircraft are pressurised tubes. You can’t just crack a window at 300 knots and drop a lunch box out. If they are going to drop, it’s usually a beacon or marker if they have one (the term you’re looking for here is either SARbuoy or Sonobuoy). Or possibly a thing like the UN’s preferred UNIPAC (or UNIPACII). Both of these are punched out of specialist aircraft. But most of a SAR are just roped-in aircraft (or hired/subcontracted aircraft), not military planes like the P-8 Poseidon.

Best case scenario they loiter (holding a position overhead to keep eyes on the target). But everyone runs out fuel eventually. That will then get handed off to another aircraft, who will hold the position.

Once the information on the location has been passed back to the headquarters for search, they’ll bring in a more appropriate craft. On the water, they’ll bring in a ship with enough space for the crew to be brought aboard. Overland, they’ll bring in a helicopter or drive up (depending on access). In fact, one of the hardest things to do in this case is communicate to the lost people that they have been seen (a low fly by, dipped wings, a bunch of options, but it’s really hard to communicate).

RE: What is dropped, look into UNIPAC and it’s ilk. Keep it big, and keep it general. In fact, this is a really good conflict to add into your game: It’s missing something you need (because these are generalist tools), and it’s dropped somewhere near you (don’t believe any UN docs on UNIPAC II’s drop accuracy. It’s a guess at best).


Oh wow, thank you for dropping that post. I was beginning to lose hope, standing by this little message on this lost isle of a board. :slight_smile:

I’m looking at UNIPAC contents now, which helps a lot. I was hoping the drop would include a shortwave radio, because this would hook the party into a negotiation scene where they would have to be careful what they said for various reasons (impossible fungus monsters, the richest castaway being dead as a doorknob, etc.).

How likely is it for there to be private searchers with less standardized procedures, to allow for narrative wiggle room?

Heaps! Buy me a beer some time and ask me about wrangling some of the international players over MH370.

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I just might if we run into each other at a con or something, I’m sure you’ve got some stories to tell.