On the morning of July 24th, 2021, an aircraft (a PA-24 Piper Comanche) from CASARA Ottawa was engaged in training exercises just east of Ottawa. During the exercise they heard a MAYDAY call from an aircraft in distress. The distress aircraft had encountered an engine failure and advised it was going to conduct an off-airport landing.

The CASARA crew immediately contacted Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton (JRCC) to report the MAYDAY radio transmission.  JRCC tasked the CASARA aircrew with a search pattern to a possible location as confirmed by an Emergency Locator Beacon (ELT) 406 Mhz hit recorded at Canadian Mission Control Centre (CMCC) CFB Trenton.  The satellite signal indicated the potential crash site was near Lac Forant, Quebec which was 100 nautical miles northwest of the CASARA training area.  Joining the search were two RCAF air assets, a CC-130H Hercules and a CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 424 Sqn based at CFB Trenton

As the CASARA aircraft approached the crash location they were able to electronically home to the downed aircraft’s exact position with their specialized aircraft-mounted homing equipment.  

Once overhead, a communications link on VHF radio with the downed pilot was attempted with no response.  Out of cell phone range, the quick thinking crew knew that they could communicate through the NavCanada Montreal Area Control Centre (ACC) to relay their position to JRCC which allowed the 424 Sqn aircraft to quickly arrive at the crash scene for the rescue. 

The CASARA crew remained on scene flying overhead until RCAF aircraft arrived to begin rescue operations.  The Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) from 424 Sqn Trenton were hoisted down from the Griffon helicopter to render medical assistance to the downed pilot who was subsequently hoisted onto the Griffon helicopter and flown to Pembroke Hospital.  She was released from hospital later that day and has expressed her heart felt thanks to the Search and Rescue Crews.

Congratulations to CASARA Ottawa air crew and ground support for their professionalism and a job well done!

“That others may live”

Below is the flight path of the CASARA aircraft…

Below is an image of the crashed aircraft as taken from the Griffon.