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21 August 2011

HAMNET News: 21 August 2011

The unfortunate loss of life and two aircraft on Sunday the 14th of August is a regrettable incident and a tragic loss of life. When I heard the news late Sunday, I did not have long to wait for a call from Air Rescue Control Centre (ARCC).

When Martie (ARCC) called me at OR Tambo airport on Monday morning, Hamnet set the ball rolling despite the odds being stacked against us. I was involved, with GAREC, Jan Schubart, ZS6ARV was attending his mother’s funeral in Port Elizabeth and Chris Gryffenberg, ZS6COG was still recovering from heart surgery!

I then took the next logical step and phoned Bruce Hepburn, ZR6BDH, the liaison officer for ORRU/HAMNET as they would be the first responders in such an incident. Bruce (on leave) confirmed this and indicated that 6 vehicles had left for Limpopo Province at 1am on Monday morning to assist in the search.

I then went about setting up a local 40M network starting with Keith, ZS5WFD and Glen, ZS5GD in Durban, Martin, ZS6MSG being strategically placed in Johannesburg, was given the ARCC telephone number and was appointed – until we got ourselves fully organised – as the liaison officer between Hamnet and ARCC. The net was later further enhanced with John, ZS4S also coming into picture.

By then, Chris, to whom I left a voice mail message, made contact with me and immediately went about setting up a communications team and preparing to move out when required to do so. This was accomplished within 2 hours. Chris made contact with ARCC and was asked to be on stand by!

Let me state clearly – in all this time HAMNET was fully involved in this call out. The only thing that did not happed was that we were not deployed!

The reason for non-deployments was quite simple. The Defence Force, who was also involved in this search and rescue, indicated that although Hamnet was ready to be deployed, did not need our services and thanked us for our preparedness.

As things turned out, at first light on Tuesday, the wreckages were located and for us to have travelled into the unknown as we had no idea where to go to, was a saved trip.

At the time of writing this report it is not clear if the wreckages were located by either search aircraft, ORRU or the Defence Force. At no time was communication a problem and our services would have been implemented if this became a drawn out search and a JOC being set up to coordinate search areas, would have been the route to follow!

An interesting point on the aircraft is that neither carried Electronic Locator Transmitters (ELT) which would have made direction finding a lot easier.

Reporting for Hamnet, this is Francois Botha, ZS6BUU.