Thursday, February 18, 2010

AFRCC assists in search for downed helicopter in West Virginia

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center here coordinated efforts to locate a Navy helicopter from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va., which crashed in a heavily wooded area near Lewisburg, W. Va., earlier this afternoon.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time today, controllers at AFRCC received a signal from a beacon aboard the helicopter. At about the same time AFRCC controllers also heard radio reports that a Navy helicopter, participating in an exercise in the area, had crashed.

Navy and Army helicopters participating in the exercise then began a search for the crash. The crash site was located at 4:25 p.m. ET. The status of the crew is unknown.

As the United States' inland search and rescue mission coordinator, the AFRCC serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating federal SAR activities in the 48 contiguous United States.

The rescue coordination center directly ties into the FAA's alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center. In addition to Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking information, the AFRCC computer system contains resource files that list federal and state organizations which can conduct or assist in SAR efforts throughout North America.

The AFRCC is part of 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern), the designated air component for the U.S. Northern Command.