Volunteers Needed In Internet Search For Missing Airplane

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Many AVwebreaders first heard about the possibilities of online search-and-rescue techniques when Steve Fossett vanished over a year ago, and thousands pitched in to scrutinize aerial imagery in search of clues. Some of the folks who helped coordinate that effort formed InternetSAR, a nonprofit group working to develop online search-and-rescue techniques, and currently they need more volunteers to help in a new search. A King Air that launched in November from the Cheddi Jagan International airport in Georgetown, Guyana, on a geological survey flight with three crewmen on board is still missing. One routine radio call was made 45 minutes into the flight, but nothing more has been heard from the crew since. Local search efforts were suspended after two weeks, but private firms continued to search for several weeks more, employing a variety of sensors, and limited ground searching continues. InternetSAR is helping to review high-resolution aerial photographs taken over almost 500 square miles of the search area. "This is about the best imagery we have seen," says InternetSAR founder Ken Barbalace. He said the terrain is challenging, with trees over 150 feet tall and dense jungle, but he remains optimistic that clues to the fate of the missing crew can be found. During the search mission, volunteers will scan over 8,000 aerial images that take up 300 gigabytes of computer storage. Anyone who would like to help search for the three men and their missing airplane can click here to sign up online.

Volunteers download the imagery, then scan the image looking for signs of the missing airplane, using techniques developed by InternetSAR. Barbalace talked with AVweb editor-in-chief Russ Niles about a year ago about the group's efforts; click here to listen to that podcast.