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#200661 - 04/21/10 05:56 AM Resounding signal mirror success: 2008/07/24 CO [Re: rafowell]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Southern California
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


Edited by rafowell (04/21/10 06:11 AM)
Edit Reason: Commented on mirror
_________________________
A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)

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#204261 - 07/04/10 04:15 AM March 9, 2009: Signal Mirror brings rescue to 23 [Re: rafowell]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Southern California
_________________________
A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)

Top
#210912 - 11/05/10 06:16 AM Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter [Re: rafowell]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Southern California
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
_________________________
A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)

Top
#210913 - 11/05/10 07:02 AM Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter [Re: rafowell]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2169
Loc: Great Plains
Wow, Rafowell- you've really done your homework! Thanks for some great info.
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#210937 - 11/06/10 02:16 AM Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter [Re: Phaedrus]
MichaelJ07 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/19/06
Posts: 101
Loc: Michigan, USA
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.
_________________________
That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.

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#210938 - 11/06/10 03:59 AM Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter [Re: rafowell]
Phaedrus Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2169
Loc: Great Plains
I've read that the flash can be seen for up to 25 miles. I believe though that the record is nearly 100 miles.
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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#210941 - 11/06/10 06:08 AM Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter [Re: MichaelJ07]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Southern California
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.




Edited by rafowell (11/06/10 06:14 AM)
Edit Reason: Explained avatar
_________________________
A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)

Top
#236823 - 12/04/11 09:45 PM Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter [Re: rafowell]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Southern California
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
_________________________
A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)

Top
#236840 - 12/05/11 03:40 AM Re: Signal mirror success: flags medevac helicopter [Re: rafowell]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
I'll bet that they're danged glad that they had that mirror along.

HJ
_________________________
Adventures In Stoving

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#239031 - 01/10/12 06:33 AM 2012/01/08 - Signal Mirror Success: Santa Barbara [Re: rafowell]
rafowell Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/29/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Southern California
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
_________________________
A signal mirror should be backup for a 24 hr, all-weather radio distress signal, such as a 406 MHz PLB (ACR PLB)

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