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#280908 - 06/01/16 01:26 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: haertig]
hikermor Offline
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Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7078
Loc: southern Cal
I am perplexed. In none of the articles I have seen is there any mention of an aerial component of the search. Does anyone know if there were wings in the air?

In my experience, once a search extends beyond about twelve hours (and most of them don't) you throw aerial resources into the effort. Reports do mention that she was on a high point where there probably would have been a better chance of spotting her.

I was involved in an equally confounding search over thirty years ago (the individual still hasn't been found) and after two weeks we were throwing everything we could possibly think of into the operation.
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#280909 - 06/01/16 04:44 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: haertig]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1146
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: haertig
In the area of the Appalachian Trail in Maine where this occurred, what would happen if you picked a compass bearing, any random bearing, and followed it? ...... I'm not saying following a random bearing is the best course of action. ...... But if your plan is to hike out, you should probably follow a natural feature (river, etc.) or lacking that, a steady compass bearing. I'm just wondering how wilderness-y is the wilderness in that area. 5 miles? 20 miles? 50 miles?
In most cases, a better idea would be to follow a compass bearing that would take you back across the trail. Provided of course that you remember which side of the trail you stepped off of into the woods. Trails are linear features, and I assume a major trail like the Appalachian would be reasonably prominent on the ground. So for example if the trail trends generally N-S, and you stepped off to the east side to pee, a West bearing should have you cross the trail again at some point.

Originally Posted By: hikermor
I am perplexed. In none of the articles I have seen is there any mention of an aerial component of the search. Does anyone know if there were wings in the air?
The article Doug linked seemed to indicate that this part of the trail is in very thick woodsy terrain. Even in relatively open terrain, the "POD" (Probability of Detection) of a single person on the ground from aircraft search is suprisingly low. In thick woods, unless she was able to get into a clearing, or make a smoky fire, she might have been next to impossible to spot from the air.


Edited by AKSAR (06/01/16 04:46 PM)
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#280910 - 06/01/16 05:59 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Offline
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Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7078
Loc: southern Cal
Aerial search is certainly not a panacea, but it is an additional tool. I have seen aerial search in "thickly wooded" (ponderosa pine forest) areas achieve success where ground teams had not yet been effective. In general, in my experience, we did not consider an area thoroughly searched until it had been covered by ground teams, dogs, and eyeballs in the sky.

We actually did some controlled experiments with determining the POD when victims were inert vs actively signalling(standing in the open and waving). Any effort by the victim increased POD sharply. One gathers that there ws an attempt at some sort of fire, and there was reflective material present at the campsite. ??

Something else bothers me. The searchers were able to determine that they had reached a point close to the victim, therefore they must have known that there was terrain over which they had not walked. now granted that travel is thick woods is tough, they had to know that there was at least one hole in their pattern.

This is tending toward Monday morning quarterbacking, which I don't care for, and I was certainly not there, and I am completely ignorant of the influences on their decisions, which I am sure were complex, not for that matter have I ever searched in their terrain. Still, questions nag...

I can tell you that when searches enter the final stages and desperation reigns, you will try anything. I spent am entire day with a psychic going to a spot in our search area where she visualized we would find our victim. That area had been thoroughly covered numerous times. What impressed me about the situation was the sincerity of the psychic - she wasn't after money (we used her transportation)- she simply wanted relief from her very troublesome vision.
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#280914 - 06/01/16 07:23 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: hikermor]
Mark_R Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/29/10
Posts: 853
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: hikermor
Mark, wouldn't your cell phone range be increased in the mountains - if you are on a high point and line of sight to the tower?


Not necessarily. If there's a line of sight with nothing to reflect off of, then yes, you can get maximum range. But, and keep in mind that radio propagation is not my area of expertise. I'm relying on what I remember from a college radiation physics course:

Consider a scenario where you're trying to shout across echoing terrain. The echoes and reverberations will locally amplify, or cancel out, what you're saying depending on location. If the listener moves more a few feet in any direction, then the apparent strength of your shout changes. It's called constructive and destructive interference. There's also the problem of understanding the original message among all the echoes and reverberations.

Now, apply that logic to radio waves instead of sound waves. Bouncing off various terrain features creates multiple radio signals. They constructively or destructively interfere with each other and the original signal. The original signal can get canceled out, or so buried under all the reflected signals (Low signal to noise ratio) that the receivers in the cell and/or the cell site can't understand it.

I hope that's clear enough to get the concept across.
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#280917 - 06/01/16 07:56 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: Mark_R]
Russ Offline
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Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5237
Loc: SOCAL
Those reflections are much more prevalent with the cell phone at ground level in an urban environment; the system algorithms are designed to deal with it. In the case of a cell phone on a mountaintop (or hanging under a balloon) out in the wilderness, the issue would be signal strength between the cell phone and tower which can be a serious issue, but a text can still get through with 1 bar of signal strength.

A PLB is still a better option.

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#280922 - 06/01/16 09:05 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: Russ]
Mark_R Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 05/29/10
Posts: 853
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Russ
Those reflections are much more prevalent with the cell phone at ground level in an urban environment; the system algorithms are designed to deal with it. In the case of a cell phone on a mountaintop (or hanging under a balloon) out in the wilderness, the issue would be signal strength between the cell phone and tower which can be a serious issue, but a text can still get through with 1 bar of signal strength.

A PLB is still a better option.


That's the reason the cell sites are located less then two miles apart in heavily built up areas.

And, yes. A PLB is a much better option.
_________________________
Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane

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#280942 - 06/02/16 06:13 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: WesleyH]
WesleyH Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/26/16
Posts: 97
Loc: OKLAHOMA
A little more info here might be helpful. .

The Maine Warden Service official summarization of the event is here:

http://www.centralmaine.com/2016/05/25/r...woods/document/


18 pages in length. Gives the most credible info available on the matter. .

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#280946 - 06/02/16 07:34 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: WesleyH]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2767
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Thank you for posting this. It answers some of our questions.

It's also rather hard to read. I can't help thinking that, despite initial missteps, she did a number of things right. She could have made it, if only she had been able to signal. Very sad.



Edited by dougwalkabout (06/02/16 07:36 PM)

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#280950 - 06/02/16 10:37 PM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: dougwalkabout]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7078
Loc: southern Cal
Yes, indeed, thanks for posting this heart-rending document. It is tough to read.

Frankly, they should have kept at the search longer than a mere seven days - but that is hindsight. I hope the authorities will learn from this incident and do better in the future. No doubt, more vigorous efforts at signalling on her part would have resulted in a happier outcome.
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#280951 - 06/03/16 12:51 AM Re: analysis of mistakes of hiker missing 27 days [Re: WesleyH]
jshannon Offline
Addict

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 585
Loc: North Texas
What were her efforts at signaling and what additional signaling would others have done to get found (other than using a plb)?


Edited by jshannon (06/03/16 12:54 AM)

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