HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: What happens when a female search and rescue helicopter pilot, a stringent rule follower, is assigned to an anything-goes flight squadron? To those guys, rules serve merely as suggestions—but everyone knows lives are at stake. In the high peaks of California’s Sierra Nevada, our heroine is introduced to a wild, beautiful world of adventure and one very handsome mountain guide. Her carefully planned life is turned upside down, and it leaves her questioning every truth she thought she knew about herself. Flying, danger, rescue, and romance.
Yes, yes! We love this. And it’s Anne Wilson’s second thriller, the brand new high-flying CLEAR TO LIFT.
Anne is a wife and mother, two kids, and lives in California. But whoa. Can you imagine her sons taking her to “what my mom does for a living” day? They win for cool.
When Anne was in the navy, she was stationed for three years at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. Her squadron specialized in high altitude, technical mountain rescue. They’d swoop up and down the Sierra Nevada—a mountain range littered with 12,000- and 13,000-foot peaks—and assist local county sheriffs and their search and rescue teams with air support.
See this photo? That’s Anne in the cockpit!
So while she and her crew are choppering above at however many thousand feet—how do they find the desperate person waiting below? And what if that person is you? Anne—as always—to the rescue.
Lost in the Outdoors?
15 Tips to Help Search and Rescue Teams Find You
By Anne Wilson
CLEAR TO LIFT is fiction—but I used my real life experience flying search and rescue to write it. When an air crew is searching for a lost person in the wilderness, it’s usually a needle-in-the-haystack scenario. It’s extremely difficult to find a tiny person in a big place, like a vast swath of forested land or an expansive mountain range. So before you head to the outdoors, it’s a good idea to plan ahead so you’re prepared in case you get lost.
Here are 15 things you can do to increase the likelihood of a rescue team finding you.
1. Bright colored clothing. Fluorescent orange and green clothing may seem excessively bright when viewed up close, but to a mountain search and rescue pilot, these colors serve as a beacon. If you’re lost, you want to stand out from the surrounding terrain, so take a brightly colored jacket, shirt, or backpack with you, just in case.
2. Space blankets. These are lightweight and pack down very small—the size of a travel pack of tissues—but they are shiny and silver and reflect the sun really well. Aluminum foil also works.
3.Mirrors. Pack a small mirror. These provide brilliant flashes of light when the sun’s rays hit them that are easily visible to an air crew.
4.Smoke. Pilots can see smoke from miles away. Ensure you’re in a clear area, if possible, before striking a match. Green vegetation makes for a highly visible smoke column.
5. Fire. It’s easier to see a fire at night than smoke. If you can do so in a clear area, this will be a big help to those looking for you
6. Get out in the open. It’s highly unlikely that an airborne search crew will find you if you’re crouched low and hiding behind a rock. Get out to that clearing. That meadow. The road. The trail.
7. Get high. The natural tendency for lost souls is to hike down into drainages, perhaps in the search for water. And yes, water is important in a survival situation, but if you hear helicopter blades beating the air nearby, you want to be high. Try to get to a ridgeline, if at all possible
8.Man-made symbols. When flying in the wilderness, nothing stands out to an airborne rescue crew like something man-made. Straight lines rarely occur in nature. Trees, logs, boulders—all of these are crooked and jagged and lay helter skelter across the landscape. So create something that will stand out to an aircrew by arranging items in a straight manner, like positioning logs end-to-end in a straight line, or creating a perfect square. Even better, arrange logs in the shape of an arrow to direct search teams to your position or to indicate the direction you’ve decided to start walking. If in winter conditions, stomp a big X in the snow.
9. Pencil flares. This are lightweight and small, but they can be a life saver. A flare is hard to miss for an airborne search crew.
10. Stay by your car. It depends on the circumstances, of course, but in terms of an aircrew team’s ability to find you, a car is easier to spot than a person.
11.Movement. If you hear a rescue aircraft overhead, don’t sit still. You want to do something to stand out from the non-moving trees and rocks around you. Wave a branch, wave a jacket or a shirt, or tie your clothing onto the branch and wave that. Bonus points if your clothing is brightly colored!
12. Reflective tape. Whether on a jacket, a backpack, or a climbing helmet, this is especially helpful to a search crew at night
13. Flashlight/headlamp. Also good for night searches. Blinking lights are easier to see than steady lights. Headlamps have blinking functions, so use this if you see or hear a helicopter flying overhead. If you have a flashlight, you can wave it back and forth
14. Whistles. This one is for the benefit of ground crews. Parties on the ground will hear a whistle before they’ll hear your voice. It’s also easier to continually blow on a whistle than it is to continually shout
15. Tell someone where you’re going. I really should have written this first. Always, always, always tells someone where you’re going and when you expect to return. Then contact that person when you get in. An alternative is to put a handwritten note on the dash of your car that says where you plan to go and when you plan to return. This will help the search team narrow their search area, and hopefully, get to you much faster.
I greatly encourage you to get outside and explore the outdoors.
Just a little prior planning and preparation can set you up for a great outing and also have you ready for any unforeseen circumstances.
Thank you, Hank and Jungle Red Writers, for inviting me back to your blog!
HANK: Ah, wow! Thank you, Anne! Where else but Jungle Red would you get stuff like this? Reds, are you hikers? Would there be a circumstance where you might find yourself in need of rescue? One of us, me, can answer that in one second. My biggest hike is from the hotel to the beach.
But I know the rest of you are more intrepid!
CLEAR TO LIFT
Navy helicopter pilot Lt. Alison Malone has been assigned to a search and rescue team based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, near the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and far from her former elite H-60 squadron. A rule follower by nature, Alison is exasperated and outraged every time she flies with her mission commander, "Boomer" Marks, for whom military procedures are merely a suggestion. Alison is desperate to be transferred out of
the boonies, where careers stagnate, and back to her life and fiancé in San Diego.
Alison's defenses start to slip when she meets mountain guide Will
Cavanaugh during a particularly dicey mission. Will introduces her
to a wild, beautiful world of adventure that she has never known
before. Stranded on a mountain during a sudden dangerous
blizzard, Alison questions every truth she thought she knew about
herself. When Will braves the storm to save her life, she must
confront the fact that she has been living a lie. But is it too late to
Full of action and adventure, dangerous and heart-stopping
rescues, blizzards and floods, family secrets and second chances, Clear to Lift is a thrilling woman's journey as she finds confidence, truth, love, and herself against the majestic backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.
Anne A. Wilson graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served nine years active duty as a navy helicopter pilot. This included three years as a search and rescue pilot based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, located near the Sierra Nevada, where she specialized in high-altitude technical mountain rescue. The Naval Helicopter Association named Anne and her crew Helicopter Aircrew of the Year, an award given for search and rescue. Anne currently resides in Fountain Hills, AZ, with her husband and two sons. Her debut novel, Hover, was released by Forge Books in June 2015. Her second novel, Clear to Lift, was released on July 12, 2016, also by Forge. To learn more, visit www.anneawilson.com.