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TOPIC: Project lifesaver

Project lifesaver 9 months 2 weeks ago #415

Is anyone out there using project lifesaver in their area? If so do you also use air assets to help? I would like to know more about what equipment is needed onboard the aircraft.

If you can help from me an email or phone call or a reply here would be great.

Thanks,


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Project lifesaver 9 months 2 weeks ago #416

  • Lee Majors
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We have been doing Project Lifesaver searches from our aircraft for years. We use the same receiver and antenna the ground units use and tie it into the audio system in the aircraft. The tactics on how to use it are different though. The helicopter is usually the first unit with a receiver on scene. Turn the receiver on as soon as you take off. We have found people on the other side of town on the way to the starting point miles away.
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Project lifesaver 9 months 2 weeks ago #417

  • Robert Steht
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We havnt been able to get it to work in the aircraft with the hand held receiver. It works great on the ground but as soon as it goes in the air its useless.
Deputy Robert Steht
Chief Pilot/CFI
Charlotte County Sheriff's Office
Air Support Unit
7474 Utilities Rd.
Punta Gorda, FL 33982
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941-637-7556 Hangar
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Project lifesaver 9 months 2 weeks ago #418

  • Lee Majors
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If you try to use it like you do on the ground I would have to agree, it doesn’t work. But we have figured it out. First, have a way to get the receiver audio into your helmet. We initially put it into an aux input of the audio panel however we determined that the operator needs the ability to quickly isolate the receiver from the aircraft audio. We modified a headset cord switch box with an isolation transformer that connects between the operator’s headset and the aircraft headset plug that the receiver is connected to. This way, when the operator thinks he hears a faint signal he can quickly shut off all of the aircraft intercom and radio traffic for a second to verify or exclude it. Second, polarize the antenna vertically instead of horizontally like you do on the ground. The main rotor system is generating RF noise in a horizontal plane. Turning your antenna 90 degrees out of phase will remove some of this noise. Third, conventional radio theory would dictate that the higher you climb the more range you would get. However this is not the case in this scenario. As you climb you receive more ambient RF or noise from many sources. The tiny amount of power these transmitters put out can’t overcome that noise threshold if you’re too far away. Start your search at 500 AGL and 60 or 70 KTS. Any higher or faster than that and you may get some indication but you won’t receive it for long as you move. Fourth, the directional yagi antenna is very directional and works well on the ground. But if you look at the pattern of the yagi antenna’s reception it will receive in all directions. Up, down, and to a lesser extent behind you. On the ground that’s not a problem. In the air it’s a big problem as it’s very hard to get a stronger or weaker signal from moving the antennas direction since it’s receiving from every direction. Add to that, you’re not standing still but moving at 60 knots. You can however use the directional antenna to determine if the transmitter is ahead of you or behind you.
Here’s how we have found it to work for us. Turn on the transmitter, gain set to 100 percent, and volume up when you leave the airport or get within a few miles of the last known location. One or two faint beeps from a thousand feet on the way to the last seen location may move your search area to the other side of town. From the last known location run a line N-S then E-W at 500 feet and 60-70KTS to see if you can get a signal. If not, do a grid search in those quadrants to see if you can get anything. Once we get a signal the operator tells the pilot when we have passed it and make a left turn. Once you’re past it again, have the pilot make another 90 degree turn. If you’ll slow down and descend a little bit with each turn and decrease the gain of the receiver with each turn you’ll end up making a descending concentric box that will put you right on the target. Or get you close enough that someone on the ground can find them. Using this method we have been able to pinpoint a house of car the transmitter is in. Don’t forget to bump the receiver frequency up and down a little if you don’t initially receive anything as the frequency of these transmitters do drift. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive anything. There are just as many times that we have found someone as there are times when the person has gotten mobile and is no longer anywhere near.
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Project lifesaver 6 months 3 weeks ago #442

Hi Lee,

Can we link up on the phone sometime?

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Project lifesaver 6 months 3 weeks ago #443

  • Lee Majors
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Absolutely, give me a ring on the cell number below.

Lieutenant Lee Majors
Leon County Sheriff's Office Aviation Section
Florida RDSTF Region Two Aviation Coordinator
Tallahassee, Florida
850-606-3230 office
850-528-8431 cell
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