Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted

Posted by: rafowell

Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted - 03/28/10 01:17 AM

I'm trying to collect recent (e.g., since 1980 or so) cases where signal mirrors were successfully used to rescue people. I've appended the solid ones I have from the last five years.

If anyone knows of ones I missed (back to 1980 or so), please post in this thread. (or send me a private message, if you are shy). Please include any details that might help me convince a skeptical reader of their authenticity.

If you can point to a newspaper article with enough specificity that I can get a copy by interlibrary loan, that would be great. The date, number of people involved, type of mirror and aiming method, group signaled to, and reason electronic signaling was unsuccessful, are all of interest.

To my mind, avoiding trouble in the first place, and having electronic signaling that does work, are priorities ahead of the signal mirror, but since the mirrors fascinate me, and seem to have been neglected, I thought I'd pull the information together.

========================================================
Recent Signal Mirror Rescues

Here are 4 documented cases from the last five years where
(a total of) eight people were carrying signal mirrors and did use
them to get rescued. I've also included the reported reasons
why their electronic signaling devices failed them.
Obviously, precluding the electronic failures would have
worked out better for them.

2009/08/12
Two lost hikers signal a National Guard helicopter in Colorado
(Cell phones left at campsite)
http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13049375
http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_13044496#ixzz0crePSYRM

2007/04/19
One injured hiker signals an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter
(satellite phone taken out by fall that broke his knee)
http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/0419hiker0419-ON.html

2005/06/10
Three boaters adrift in the Gulf of Mexico signal a passing ship
(drifted out of cell phone range, no VHF radio)
http://www.floatplancentral.org/library/TalesOfThePlan07.htm

2005/05/17
Two stranded boaters signal a NYPD helicopter
(Cell phones out of charge)
http://www.sailingbreezes.com/Sailing_Breezes_Current/articles/June05/quickthinking.htm

======= older, but notable =============
1989/11/27
Five youths stuck in snow signal rescue aircraft in Washington State
http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=9hoaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=YyQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=3169,7828728
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted - 03/28/10 02:39 AM

Do you have one from Tucson, Arizona from around 1980? A party of hikers successfully initiated a rescue by signaling from the front range of the Catalinas. I am very sketchy on the details since I did not participate in that particular operation, but we could reach someone who would have the information.
Posted by: Teslinhiker

Re: Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted - 03/28/10 02:47 AM

Not sure if you have seen this story from 2005

Hiker Gilbert Dewey Gaedcke's trip to paradise included a brush with death after he lost his way on a lava field near Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano.

Gaedcke was rescued after five days when Peter Frank, a teenager on a helicopter tour, spotted him. CNN's Carol Costello spoke Tuesday with Gaedcke and Frank about the ordeal.
Posted by: rafowell

Re: Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted - 03/28/10 03:42 AM

No, I don't have the ~1980 Tucson one - info would be welcome.

Thanks!
Posted by: rafowell

Re: Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted - 03/28/10 03:44 AM

Originally Posted By: Teslinhiker
Not sure if you have seen this story from 2005
<snip>

Gaedcke was rescued after five days when Peter Frank, a teenager on a helicopter tour, spotted him. CNN's Carol Costello spoke Tuesday with Gaedcke and Frank about the ordeal.[/i]


No, I didn't, thanks!
Posted by: MDinana

Re: Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted - 03/28/10 09:09 AM

A fast google did NOT turn up any support, but about 1992-3, when I was at a BSA camp, one of the kids went out at night. Reportedly, the helo found him the next morning after he used the reflector from his flashlight to signal the chopper. I'll see sometime later if I can find documentation.
Posted by: Teslinhiker

Re: Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted - 03/28/10 02:09 PM

Here is another news article for your collection. Although the article is centered on the performance of a helicopter for rescue, there is mention of a person using a signal mirror to attract the flight crew attention.


Below, Anderson saw the aircraft and heard its familiar mechanical whine. But he thought they didn’t see him, so he used a signal mirror to get their attention.

“The helicopter was about 1,500 feet below us and there were other hikers waving at it just to say hello,” he said. “I was afraid the crew would be distracted, so I used a signal mirror to get their attention while I called the Coast Guard again on my cell phone.”
Posted by: rafowell

Re: Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted - 03/29/10 04:53 AM

Thanks, MDinana - hope you can find more on that.
Good catch, Teslinhiker - I'm glad you found that one.

I expect that cell phones, VHF/ham radios and EPIRB/PLBs are saving more people these days.

I found this scorecard for EPIRB/PLBs: http://www.sarsat.noaa.gov/

In the United States, in 2009, for PLBs alone:
33 people rescued in 26 incidents.
The total for the US in 2009, when EPIRBs are added:
195 people rescued in 94 incidents.
Posted by: rafowell

Possible mirror success - 3/28/2010, California - 04/07/10 04:52 AM

Here's a possible - reporter didn't sound too confident.

3/28/2010 Lost hiker in Crestline California

http://rimoftheworld.net/columns/neufeld/missing_hiker

"A source close to the operation indicated a mirror or other shiny object had possibly been used by Gerald to attract the attention of the search helicopter."



Posted by: rafowell

Possible mirror success - 3/26/2009, Texas - 04/10/10 05:49 AM

3/26/2009, Texas , Possible mirror success

Seems at best an "assist", since they ignored it
initially until they heard folks were in trouble,
and it was never explained what caused the flash.

http://www.forthoodsentinel.com/story.php?id=515

"he saw a flash “like an emergency signal mirror.”
Posted by: rafowell

Resounding signal mirror success: 2008/07/24 CO - 04/21/10 05:56 AM

2008/07/24 - Hells Canyon, Colorado, lost hiker.

Lost hiker Patrick Higgins spent two nights in the wilderness, then finally
trolled in a Civil Air Patrol plane (it took over an hour of signaling on his part)
with a quarter-sized signal mirror from the bottom of a canyon.
{ Not only was it tiny, but it was recessed, so you can't signal at much of an angle off-sun, and no aimer, either - RF }

Three Civil Air Patrol accounts laud his skill with the signal mirror.

The mainstream news stories don't even
mention that Patrick was carrying a signal mirror.

By the way, reference [2] is a lavish PowerPoint package with
beautiful photographs and lots of background details for those
of you who are interested in other aspects of survival and
search & rescue other than signal mirrors.

"By 10:22 a.m., the team spotted a shining spot beyond the mountain. Unsure if it was
a windshield reflection or a mirror S.O.S., they followed the light across the
mountain into Hell’s Canyon. More light signals sent the crew to a lower altitude for
a closer look." ... "By 11:35 the aircrew suspected they had located the man. Higgens
helped tremendously in his rescue as he was unusually knowledgeable in the use of the
mirror as he tracked the plane with it. By 12:07 the air crew confirmed it ..." [1]

"He was impressed with Patrick’s ability to target the aircraft [with the signal
mirror] and follow it through the banks and turns. This was told to Patrick during
the interview at ICP, to which he replied: “I was motivated!” [2]
"The mirror he used to signal the plane was only about the size of a quarter, like the multi-
function survival aid pictured here. Patrick had one just like this slung around his neck
during this interview at ICP."

"The aircrew was impressed with Higgins' ability to signal with a mirror only the size
of quarter. 'Patrick targeted the airplane and followed it for a substantial part of
its arc"[3]

In contrast, the new stories [4][5] don't even mention that Patrick had a signal mirror!

[1] Rescue Team, Finds Lost Hiker, p. 3 of Airwaves, Sept. 2008
http://tinyurl.com/08M1313c

[2] Hell Canyon Search CAP 08M1313 (Power Point) - very well illustrated
http://tinyurl.com/08M1313a

[2] "Another typical Rocky Mountain misson", page 24, top left of page 25 Civil Air
Patrol Volunteer, May-July 2009 PDF page 24, top of page 25
http://tinyurl.com/08M1313b

[4] News story: http://www.co.larimer.co.us/news/newsDetail.cfm?id=196

[5] News story: http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=96374&catid=339

[6] News stories: http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/16977456/detail.html

[7] News story: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_9983652?source=bb

[7] CAP bulletin: http://captalk.net/index.php?topic=5611.msg107134#msg107134

[8] News: http://www.summitdaily.com/article/20080724/NEWS/185048856/1035/NONE&parentprofile=1062

[] News story: http://www.backpacker.com/blogs/the_pulse/337
Posted by: rafowell

March 9, 2009: Signal Mirror brings rescue to 23 - 07/04/10 04:15 AM

( In thread: Re: Recent Signal Mirror Successes - more wanted)

2009/03/09
23 in life rafts rescued after 12 hours adrift when
fishing vessel spots signal mirror from life raft kit
(Ship sank too fast for radio message, mobile phones)
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/aussie-dive-survivor-tells-walked-walls/
http://www.cdnn.info/news/safety/s090314.html

(Here's the account in a survivor's own words):
http://www.phuket-info.com/forums/news-articles/40458-divers-missing-off-phuket-2.html

Again, most of the news stories didn't mention the mirror:
News broadcast:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAYPJNZxphE
News stories:
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phang-nga-storm-sinks-dive-boat-six-missing/
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/squall-tipped-boat-warning-survivors-tell/
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/nightmare-sea-dive-boat-disappeared/
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/first-light-sees-search-survivors-resume/
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/phuket-divers-find-boat-seabed-tomb/
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/dive-boat-sinking-recovery-effort-underway/
http://phuketwan.com/tourism/final-dive-cook-chose-stay/
http://www.bahtsold.com/news?id=1406

Posted by: rafowell

Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter - 11/05/10 06:16 AM

The story hyperlinked below, datelined 10/29/2010, describes a rattlesnake bite victim in Oregon 2.5 hours from the nearest highway. He contacted his wife by radio, she used OnStar to dispatch a medevac helicopter to their GPS coordinates, but despite the GPS coordinates, the helicopter couldn't locate them on the first two passes.

The OnStar operator asked him if they had anything reflective.
They dug into their hunting kit and found a signaling mirror, which they used to signal the helicopter.

24 vials of antivenin later, all was well.

Good teamwork of modern technology and old-fashioned survival gear!

Link to Full Story of Snakebite victim and Signal Mirror
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter - 11/05/10 07:02 AM

Wow, Rafowell- you've really done your homework! Thanks for some great info.
Posted by: MichaelJ07

Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter - 11/06/10 02:16 AM

Great collection!

I am always wondering how far the light from a signaling mirror travels. 5 miles? 25 miles? Do you have any info on this?

Mike, who always carries his signal mirror with him while in the woods.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter - 11/06/10 03:59 AM

I've read that the flash can be seen for up to 25 miles. I believe though that the record is nearly 100 miles.
Posted by: rafowell

Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter - 11/06/10 06:08 AM

Originally Posted By: MichaelJ07

I am always wondering how far the light from a signaling mirror travels. 5 miles? 25 miles? Do you have any info on this?


Yes: lots of info and personal experience.

It's very much a function of how clear the air is.

In clear air, 25 miles for a 2"x5" glass aignal mirror, and 45 miles for a 3"x5" signal mirror are about nominal for naked eye visibility - I've done that several times. In reasonably (but not overly) smoggy air - half that.

Range is greater when signaling toward the sun, less with the sun at your back.

Here are videos I made of the mirror flashes from my 3"x5" glass mirror at ranges of 0.7, 11.1 and 43 miles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwCbgQGmID4

A post on some of my 22-mile testing, with links to videos of the testing I posted on YouTube, are here:
Signal Mirrors at 22 miles: glass, metal, plastic

More references:
US Navy Test: "Mirror Flash seen 45 Miles"
Doug Ritter's Consumer Alert: "Phony Glass SIgnal Mirrors"
WWII U.S. Government Signal Mirror training film


BTW: My avatar image is a photo taken through the aiming grid of a signal mirror - that bright spot isn't the sun itself, but the virtual image of the direction the reflected light is going, produced by the retroreflective beads on the aimer mesh.


Posted by: rafowell

Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter - 12/04/11 09:45 PM

Originally Posted By: rafowell
The story hyperlinked below, datelined 10/29/2010, describes a rattlesnake bite victim in Oregon 2.5 hours from the nearest highway. He contacted his wife by radio, she used OnStar to dispatch a medevac helicopter to their GPS coordinates, but despite the GPS coordinates, the helicopter couldn't locate them on the first two passes.

The OnStar operator asked him if they had anything reflective.
They dug into their hunting kit and found a signaling mirror, which they used to signal the helicopter.

24 vials of antivenin later, all was well.

Good teamwork of modern technology and old-fashioned survival gear!

Link to Full Story of Snakebite victim and Signal Mirror


The link above is now a "dead link" - here's an alternate:

Internet Archive copy of Snakebite and Signal Mirror article
Posted by: Hikin_Jim

Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter - 12/05/11 03:40 AM

I'll bet that they're danged glad that they had that mirror along.

HJ
Posted by: rafowell

2012/01/08 - Signal Mirror Success: Santa Barbara - 01/10/12 06:33 AM

Yesterday in Santa Barbara County, California, a lone overdue hiker, lost and bogged down in heavy brush, was spotted when he signaled the SAR helicopter with his signal mirror, and got a flight to safety.

Read the (fairly thorough) report from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's office here:

SAR Finds Lost Hiker - Santa Barbara, California
Posted by: rafowell

Re: 2012/01/08 - Signal Mirror Success: Santa Barbara - 09/06/12 07:21 AM

I missed this one on April 8-9, 2012, Ortega Mountains.

Rescuers vector in heliocopter with signal mirror.

Search and Rescue San Mateo Trail
http://www.rmru.org/missions/2012/2012-011.html
Posted by: hikermor

Re: 2012/01/08 - Signal Mirror Success: Santa Barbara - 09/06/12 10:23 AM

If you are counting situations like that, in southern Arizona (lots of sunlight and long vistas) we routinely flashed a responding helo on just about every daylight operation. Probably still routine, although I have not been involved recently.

I have hauled out the signal mirror/compass mirror on routine, non SAR work just to let the pilot know for sure where we are and to keep in practice.
Posted by: rafowell

Signal Mirror Success: May 25 2013 - 5 rescued - 05/30/13 09:43 PM

On May 25, 2013, 5 people whose 19-ft boat had been adrift for 7 days in the Pacific were rescued after a US Navy C-130 search plane from VR-62 ("Nomads") spotted their signal mirror flash at 5 mile range after 3 hours of searching. News reports here:

US Navy Press Release
Photo Album of Rescue from VR-62 Facebook site
Photo of drifting boat, possible weak flash
US Coast Guard news release

US Coast Guard search doctrine assumes a detection range of 5 nautical miles for a sun signal mirror, consistent
with this incident (US COMDTINST M16130.2F , Table H-20, page H-46, January 2013).

Most nations require all oceangoing vessels to carry sun signal mirrors for the purpose of signalling
to rescue plans and ships when in distress:

International Treaty: Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Regulation 11: Equipment of Lifeboats :(xix) a daylight signalling mirror of an approved type
1993 Torremolinos Protocol and Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels (page 80) ; (page 89) ; (page 300) ; (page 309) "One daylight signalling mirror with instructions for its use for signalling to ships and aircraft"
US Code Title 46 CFR 160.151-21 Equipment required for SOLAS A and SOLAS B inflatable liferafts. o) Signalling mirror (Regulation -III/38.5.1.15). Each signalling mirror described by Regulation III/38.5.1.15 must be approved by the Commandant under approval series 160.020.
US Coast Guard Approval Category 160.020 Emergency Signalling Mirror
SOLAS (Safey of Life at Sea) Requirements for Lifeboats "Daylight signalling mirror with instructions" (Annex 4, Row 19; Annex 6, Row 21;
United Kingdom Lifeboat Requirements 10.1.19 Daylight signalling mirror
FAA Requirement Part 135 Section 167 For extended overwater operations: requires liferaft including one signaling mirror (and lots of other equipment)
Posted by: rafowell

Signal Mirror Success: June 25 2013 - 3 rescued - 06/29/13 05:50 AM

Three hikers in distress in Alaska were rescued this Tuesday, June 25, 2013, two days after running out of food, when the pilots of a CH-47F Chinook heliocopter spotted their signal mirror. The Chinook was out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, on a training mission.

3 hikers rescued after 2 days without food

Three hikers rescued in Alaska - Associated Press

Update: 6/30/2013: Here's a release from the Fort Wainwright Facebook page:

USARAK Aviators rescue three hikers near Healy June 28, 2013

Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Signal Mirror Success: June 25 2013 - 3 rescued - 06/29/13 06:53 AM

Great thread! It's an eye opener when you see how powerful a tool a signal mirror is.
Posted by: rafowell

June 30 2013 SIgnal MIrror Success: 1 rescued - 07/02/13 05:52 AM

June 30 2013, Tatlanika Creek, SW of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Downed pilot rescued after search plane spotted his signal mirror and orange panel.

This is the second signal mirror success in Alaska within 7 days!
(see above).

In this case, the pilot would have been rescued soon thanks to his old-fashioned 121.5 MHz ELT signal, but thanks to his signal mirror, they spotted him before they could localize the ELT beacon.

“The pilot signaled the HC-130 with a signal mirror and an orange panel,... They actually had visual confirmation of him before they were able to home in on the ELT signal.”

Alaska National Guardsmen Rescue Plane Crash Victim near Tatlanika Creek

Uninjured Pilot Rescued from Plane Crash near Fairbanks

Round robin flight ends in wilderness plane crash north of Denali Park
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: June 30 2013 SIgnal MIrror Success: 1 rescued - 07/03/13 02:47 AM

Very cool! Sounds like he was very prepared.
Posted by: rafowell

Signal Mirror Success - NW Nevada ~Nov. 10, 2013 - 01/05/14 06:54 AM

Gino Borges' pickup got stuck in Nevada's Black Rock Desert about 30 miles from the nearest paved road around Nov 9, 2013.

Gino camped overnight, and on the next day, attracted the attention of some ATVs about 5 miles away with his AMK Rescue Flash signal mirror. The ATVs then bailed him out.

Gino relates his experience in this YouTube Video posted Nov. 15, 2013 and this Nov. 13 blog post.

Posted by: Russ

Re: Signal Mirror Success - NW Nevada ~Nov. 10, 2013 - 01/05/14 03:27 PM

Wow, someone went into the desert with a survival kit which had a signal mirror. Some folks might think that he just got lucky, but in this case he seems to have made his own luck.

Signal mirrors and ATV's are much less pricey than PLB's and helicopters, but it's nice to have the more pricey back-ups if rock simple doesn't work. Good on him.
Posted by: rafowell

New Zealand man saved by PLB and mirror: 3/31/2014 - 04/06/14 05:50 AM

This New Zealand hiker found a man lying in a stream in the woods with a head injury.

The hiker used his PLB to summon help (no cell coverage), but the helicopter had trouble locating them due to the tree canopy, and (judging by the photo - see linked article below) there was no place to land nearby.

The hiker found a spot of sunlight and used his signal mirror through a gap in the canopy to signal the helicopter. ( Since he's in a Commonwealth country, he refers to it as a "heliograph mirror").

A paramedic was winched down, and the victim winched out.

NZ Herald - Inventive tramper saves hurt man's life

(This earlier NZ Herald report gives the paramedics name and the date (March 31st), but doesn't mention the mirror.)
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11230314
Posted by: Doug_Ritter

Re: New Zealand man saved by PLB and mirror: 3/31/2014 - 04/06/14 06:32 PM

[quote=rafowell]This New Zealand hiker found a man lying in a stream in the woods with a head injury.

The hiker used his PLB to summon help (no cell coverage), but the helicopter had trouble locating them due to the tree canopy, and (judging by the photo - see linked article below) there was no place to land nearby.

The hiker found a spot of sunlight and used his signal mirror through a gap in the canopy to signal the helicopter. ( Since he's in a Commonwealth country, he refers to it as a "heliograph mirror").

[quote]

Even with all the technologies, you still need the basics!
Posted by: tomfaranda

Re: New Zealand man saved by PLB and mirror: 3/31/2014 - 04/06/14 09:36 PM

no links.
Posted by: Glock-A-Roo

Re: New Zealand man saved by PLB and mirror: 3/31/2014 - 04/07/14 06:07 PM

Originally Posted By: Doug_Ritter
Even with all the technologies, you still need the basics!


A very common theme I've noticed in reading survival accounts over the last 5 years or so is that the final 100-200 meters are problematic, even when rescue was called in via phone or PLB. You still need the mirror, flares, strobelight, etc.
Posted by: CDVXF7

Re: New Zealand man saved by PLB and mirror: 3/31/2014 - 04/08/14 04:01 AM

This may help...
http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a081153.pdf

From 1980 a US military critical evaluation of survival kits and vests they use. It gives statistics how pilots were rescued, what items in the survival kit were used. Table 2 "Means used to Locate Individual" on page 11 ranks mirror 15th out of 28. I'm still going to pack a mirror anyway.
Posted by: MDinana

Re: New Zealand man saved by PLB and mirror: 3/31/2014 - 04/08/14 08:04 PM

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/09/23/20100923arizona-boy-scouts-troops-lost-abrk.html

http://santarosa.towns.pressdemocrat.com/2012/10/news/boy-scout-troop-135s-dramatic-rescues/

didnt' see these mentioned. Never able to track down details of that kid.
Posted by: rafowell

Re: New Zealand man saved by PLB and mirror: 3/31/2014 - 04/09/14 02:00 AM

Originally Posted By: tomfaranda
no links.


The links are in the original post, here: Original Post
Posted by: rafowell

Arizona Scouts Signal helicopter: 9/18/2010 - 04/09/14 02:50 AM



Thanks for the links. In both cases, it seems a case of Scouts "being prepared".

I have lots more information on the first incident.

I worked up information at the time, but apparently got distracted, and never posted - thanks for the reminder:

(9/18/2010, six scouts & 2 leaders, Pine Mountain Wilderness, Yavapai County, AZ -
low on water, used ham radio to get the word out).

Here are two more news reports with more details -
the first one includes the tidbit that the helicopter spotted the signal mirror flashes when about 5 miles out.



A Scout leader friend of mine, who helps organize that event in Arizona, interviewed the Scout leader involved afterwards and passed some additional information on to me.

The Scouts were out for their annual mountaintop to mountaintop signal mirror signalling event, Operation On Target, an annual event since the early 1980s, in which I've participated since 2009.

So, the scouts had lots of signal mirrors with which to signal the helicopter, and were practiced in their use (which is important!)

Since ham radio is used for peak-peak coordination during the event, they had more than one of those, too.

Per my friend, what caused them to be running late was that the trail signs had been removed, so they were bushwhacking their way in the heat and altitude, and a couple of the boys were getting dehydrated and short on water.

Compounding the issue is that the cell phone they'd been using for GPS had run out of juice on the way up, so they didn't have good GPS coordinates to report.(Allowing batteries to run out is a common theme in many of these incidents).

The GPS coordinates they transmitted to the Prescott ham (who relayed to the helicopter) were the GPS coordinates for the peak they had signaled from earlier in the day, which they had prerecorded, so the signal mirrors were really key, here, since the GPS coordinates they gave were only enough to get the helicopter to the general neighborhood.

Since they didn't have a common radio frequency with the helicopter, all of their radio communications with it were multihop - they only spoke to the Prescott ham directly, and he relayed from there.

The assessment of the Scout leaders in the field at the time was that they'd make it out on their own, and they just asked the Prescott ham to let their families know they were okay and running late, but apparently there was enough concern that the sheriff mobilized.



Posted by: rafowell

Signal Mirror Rescue 5/13/2015 Alaska - 05/18/15 05:57 AM

Hiker stuck on Thunder Mountain cliff near Juneau, Alaska, hoisted off by USCG last Thursday.

USCG Petty Officer Trevor Frommherz said: "“People down there were down there, saw him, he was flashing a signal mirror, trying to get some help,” The USCG report says: "After notifying 911 by cellphone, the hiker was able to use a reflective device to help rescuers hone in on his location." USCG spokesman Kelly Parker said: "That did help us find him on the mountain face.”

The first distress report reached state troopers ca. 12:30 - unclear whether that was from observers near a local high school that he flashed with his mirror, or his 12:41 911 call. Local search and rescue tried with their helicopter and personnel to rescue him, but called in the USCG ca. 6 PM. USCG on scene at 7:10 PM.

News stories:


USCG video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYZJocuyHkg



The USCG video is available as a 148 Mb download here:
https://www.dvidshub.net/video/404533/co...r-juneau-alaska
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Signal Mirror Rescue 5/13/2015 Alaska - 05/18/15 03:15 PM

Well, I have a failure to report. We can learn from our failures as well as our successes, right?

No emergency was involved, but I spotted my two companions about a quarter mile distant, hiking down a road to retrieve a vehicle and then come back to collect me when we had completed our tasks. The sun was at a perfect angle for signalling. I decided to try my compass mirror (Suunto MC-2), forming "V' with my fingers. I flashed and flashed without getting their attention.

Quite surprising really. Had this been an actual emergency,I would have dug into my gear a bit deeper and used my dedicated signal mirror.
Posted by: gonewiththewind

Re: Signal Mirror Rescue 5/13/2015 Alaska - 05/18/15 05:38 PM

We learn MORE from mistakes than successes.

If they are not looking in the direction of the signal, they can't see it.
Posted by: hikermor

Re: Signal Mirror Rescue 5/13/2015 Alaska - 05/18/15 11:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Montanero
We learn MORE from mistakes than successes.

If they are not looking in the direction of the signal, they can't see it.


Exactly correct. They were probably in "plodding" mode, beating feet back to the vehicle. i quit flashing after a while because I didn't want to cause sunburn or skin cancer, etc.
Posted by: rafowell

Signal Mirror Rescue 7/15/2015 Colorado - Gorske - 07/23/15 11:42 PM

Tim Gorske, 62, became lost Friday in Colorado while hiking a section of the Continental Divide. He triggered his PLB Sunday AM, and SAR was notified at 10:37AM. They searched that day until 1:30 AM, during which time Tim stayed put. At 8 AM Monday, Tim turned off his beacon, relocated, and turned it on again at 10AM. Around noon Monday, Tim spotted an aircraft, and signaled it with his mirror. The aircraft directed ground SAR to his location.

Search area displayed using Gmap4

News stories below.

The video accompanying the first news story includes a map of the area and a video interview with Tim Gorske. It implies Tim's "PLB" was a SPOT, and mentions the low purchase price of SPOT w/o disclosing the required $150/yr service fee. For a more thoughtful discussion of emergency beacon / messaging options, see:
OutdoorGearLab review of satellite SOS and messaging and OutdoorGearLab Comparison Table

News Stories:

Posted by: rafowell

Christmas rescue in Palau thanks to signal mirror - 12/31/15 06:36 AM

Three fishermen in Palau were 36 hours overdue in their motorized fishing boat (engine trouble?) and two of them decided to swim (8 miles) to land.

Fortunately, a helicopter found the boat and learned of the swimmers from the third fisherman.

A Zodiac boat looking for the swimmers saw their signal mirror and rescued them on Christmas, 12/25/2015.

The link below is the only news story on this I have found.

Palau swimmers flag down Zodiac with Signal Mirror on Christmas
Posted by: rafowell

PLB plus signal mirror rescue - 7/10/2015 - 01/19/16 07:41 AM

Southern California, 7/10/2015

Hang glider ran out of lift and landed at the base of Keller Peak. No cell reception, no response on 2m amateur radio. He triggered his PLB, but after a while, concerned the mountains might have blocked the signal, tried to hike out (with PLB still transmitting). When the helicopter showed up ...

"I continued backtracking as the helicopter flew back out and over my head as I waved in plain sight.
I reached for my glass signal mirror with retro-reflective aiming center and lit up the chopper with reflected sunlight ...
Once we exited the helicopter, the pilot showed me his own, well-worn signal mirror and thanked me for using mine along with the PLB."


Full story here: https://www.acrartex.com/survivors/stories/2015/dietch-long-beach-ca

Good assist to PLB from the signal mirror!

Also, had cell phone, 2m radio and SAR equipment, despite the fact he was <heh> flying light.

One spooky coincidence ... 8 days later, for the Scouting event Operation On-Target, I was at Crestline just up the road from where he launched his glider, exchanging signal mirror signals with a Scout team on Keller Peak, the base of which is where he was stranded!
Posted by: hikermor

Re: PLB plus signal mirror rescue - 7/10/2015 - 01/20/16 02:25 PM

I am not sure he was justified in triggering his PLB....from his account-"filled with mountain lions, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and..." and he had a "long hike" - oh dear!!
Posted by: WesleyH

Re: Possible mirror success - 3/26/2009, Texas - 05/26/16 08:27 AM

dead link.
Posted by: rafowell

Re: Possible mirror success - 3/26/2009, Texas - 05/31/16 05:16 AM

Originally Posted By: WesleyH
dead link.

The 3/26/2009 link:
http://www.forthoodsentinel.com/sports/f...74435f6b25.html

works for me.
Posted by: rafowell

Re: Signal Mirror Rescue 7/15/2015 Colorado - Gorske - 05/31/16 05:35 AM

Originally Posted By: rafowell
Tim Gorske, 62, became lost Friday in Colorado ... Around noon Monday, Tim spotted an aircraft, and signaled it with his mirror. The aircraft directed ground SAR to his location.

I just spotted a later article – since the original post is closed, I'll add it here. Also, it seems is full name is John Timm Gorsky, hence some articles call him John and some Tim.

There's a nice 2-page article on this rescue in the Winter 2015-2016 "Peaks and Planes",
Official Magazine of the Colorado Wing, Civil Air Patrol, in the article "Steamboat Squadron Aircrew Earns Save of Lost Hiker"
by Lt. Col. Mike Daniels, CAP COWG Mission PIO, pp. 35-36.
About 1" down column 1 on p. 36, it says:

Originally Posted By: Lt. Col. Mike Daniels
"... Lt. Col. Barkey spotted a light flash he thought might be a signal mirror.
... John Gorske ... started to see a plane in his area and then began signaling with a mirror.
The aircrew continued to circle over that point, and both observers saw multiple light flashes.
Being certain they had located Mr. Gorske, ..."

So this was a case of the survivor deliberately targeting the plane. Since both observers saw multiple flashes, he had margin.

Also, I hadn't posted John's account at the ACR Site - it mentions the mirror work again, and that he used a ResQLink™ PLB.
Posted by: rafowell

2016/06/12 - Idaho - Injured hiker - 06/16/16 05:44 AM

2016/06/12 - "Initial search-and-rescue responders were able to locate the victim’s husband because he had brought a signal mirror on the hike."
Injured Hiker Rescued near Hailey

Hiker dislocated knee during fall in location w/o cell coverage. Her husband hiked to location with coverage, signaled with mirror, provided GPS coordinates. Site was Kelly Mountain, west of Hailey, Idaho.

Only other coverage I've managed to find:
Technical rescue for injured hiker on steep terrain
Posted by: rafowell

Re: Christmas rescue in Palau thanks to signal mirror - 11/26/16 12:29 AM

Originally Posted By: rafowell
Three fishermen in Palau were 36 hours overdue in their motorized fishing boat (engine trouble?) and two of them decided to swim (8 miles) to land.

Fortunately, a helicopter found the boat and learned of the swimmers from the third fisherman.

A Zodiac boat looking for the swimmers saw their signal mirror and rescued them on Christmas, 12/25/2015.

The link below is the only news story on this I have found.

Palau swimmers flag down Zodiac with Signal Mirror on Christmas

The link I gave above last year for the 2015 Christmas Rescue no longer leads to the signal mirror news story.

Fortunately, I archived the original news page on the Internet Archive - here's the link: Archived News Story for Palau swimmers signal mirror success with Zodiac
Posted by: rafowell

Recent Signal Mirror Success? 3 Nov 2019 - 11/09/19 05:01 AM

This article (including video) credits a signal mirror for the rescue of New Zealand woman Kushila Stein adrift in the Aegean sea north of Crete this Sunday:

"Fortunately, by using a mirror to reflect light, Kushila was spotted by the Greek Coastguard and was saved after two nights adrift."

Other articles cite the signal mirror was used, but not what the rescuers actually spotted:

The New Zealand Herald said: "She also pointed the small mirror she kept in her backpack at the sun to try and attract the attention of any planes that flew over." and "She had been located 55 nautical miles off the north of Crete about midday on Sunday."
The BBC said: "Ms Stein put a red bag on her head and used a mirror to attract attention, reports say."
Yet another report said: "Whenever a plane flew overhead, she pointed a mirror toward the sun, hoping to create a flash that would attract passengers' attention. "

The Daily Mail Australia article didn't even mention the mirror.
Posted by: Phaedrus

Re: Recent Signal Mirror Success? 3 Nov 2019 - 11/09/19 05:24 AM

I always make sure I have a mirror or two along! Good links.