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Instructor - David Kovar. Fixed wing and rotorcraft pilot Domestic and international SAR responder MSF, Inland SAR School, SAR Tech II, SRT I, various animal rescue courses, Rescue Systems 1, WFR. Source for materials. This presentation is based on: K-9 HELITAC

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Instructor david kovar
Instructor - David Kovar


  • Fixed wing and rotorcraft pilot

  • Domestic and international SAR responder

  • MSF, Inland SAR School, SAR Tech II, SRT I, various animal rescue courses, Rescue Systems 1, WFR

1st Special Response Group

Source for materials
Source for materials.

This presentation is based on:


Helicopter Safety For You and Your Dog


Nicholas J. Razum

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Additional resources
Additional Resources

Mountain Rescue Association

“Helicopters in Search and Rescue Operations”

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Required equipment
Required equipment

Long sleeve shirt

Long pants

Boots – prefer leather

Ear plugs

Safety goggles or glasses, secured.

All helmets must have chin strap.

No hats. (Stuff in pack.)


Flat collar


Less than 6 foot lead.

Some operators now require muzzles.

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Recommended equipment
Recommended equipment

  • Nomex clothing.

  • Leather boots.

  • Nomex or leather gloves.

  • Flight helmet

  • Ear plugs.

  • Safety goggle.

  • No synthetics.

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Approaching do nots
Approaching – “Do Nots”

  • Never approach without permission.

  • Do not approach while rotors are slowing to a stop.

  • Never approach helicopter from rear.

  • Do not approach while carrying any long items – skis, antennas, probe poles.

  • Never approach while carrying burning items.

  • Never approach from uphill.

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Approaching dos
Approaching – “Dos”

  • Wait for signal from pilot or crew chief.

  • Secure all loose items.

  • Approach within 45 degrees of the nose. (Blackhawks are an exception.)

  • Ensure that dog is completely under control.

  • Wear all appropriate safety items.

  • Know your true weight of each item – self, canine, and pack.

  • “Break” your canine prior to approaching.

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Helicopter safety zone
Helicopter safety zone

  • Do not approach from rear of helicopter.

  • Use care when approaching from sides.

  • If possible, approach within 45 degrees of nose.

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Approach with low profile
Approach with low profile

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Approach from downhill
Approach from downhill

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Entering helicopter
Entering helicopter.

  • Load your dog in first. (Be prepared to lift.)

  • Enter the aircraft and secure yourself.

  • Secure your canine.

  • Don helmet or headset

  • Familiarize yourself with operation of doors, intercom, etc.

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Exiting helicopter
Exiting helicopter

  • Stay secured until instructed to disembark.

  • Remove helmet/headset and secure.

  • Unstrap yourself and disembark.

  • Rebuckle safety belts.

  • Unstrap canine and maintain control.

  • Depart in direction indicated by crew chief or towards front of helicopter.

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Control of canines
Control of Canines

  • Canines must be calm and completely under control while approaching or in the helicopter.

  • Handlers may not drag, carry, or force an uncooperative canine towards the helicopter.

  • Handlers may carry a calm canine.

  • The safety officer and crew chief may require the team to depart the operational area if they judge the canine to be out of control.

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Control positive obedience
Control – positive obedience

  • Focus the canine’s attention on the handler and keep it there.

  • Practice heeling in the parking lot with rewards.

  • Approach the flight line with canine still at a heel.

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Rotor wash
Rotor wash

  • Most canines balk at the rotor wash more than anything else.

  • Most intense just outside of the rotor tip path.

  • Canine may relax once they push through the wall of air.

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Securing the canine
Securing the canine

  • Possible ways to secure canine in helicopter

  • Sitting sideways, utilize normal seatbelts.

  • Secured to a hard point on floor or wall.

  • Not secured at all, even with doors off! (Hang on tight.)

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Canine considerations
Canine considerations

  • “Break” canine (and self) prior to flight.

  • Maintain positive control.

  • Put canine in escape-proof harness/collar.

  • Maintain GOOD grip on leash.

  • If canine is not under control, do not force.

  • Reassure canine by talking softly in ear.

  • Be prepared to carry canine to helicopter.

  • Low frequency vibrations disturb canines.

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Types of helicopters
Types of Helicopters

  • Light – 1 to 7 places. B206B, MD500, Lama

    • Lighter vibration, moderate wash.

  • Medium – 8 to 16 places. Huey, Blackhawk

    • Low vibration, major wash

  • Heavy – Chinook

    • Very low vibrations, very powerful wash

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Light helicopter
Light Helicopter

  • Bell 206B2

  • “Jet Ranger”

  • Four passengers

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Medium helicopter
Medium Helicopter

  • Sikorsky Blackhawk

  • Crew of 4, 16 passengers

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Heavy helicopter
Heavy Helicopter

  • Chinook “CH-47”

  • Seats 33

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And if you see this
And if you see this …

  • If you see this coming to pick you up, just start hiking ….

  • Actually, it’s a Russian MI-4 and a great workhorse.

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Seating and configuration
Seating and Configuration

  • “Normal” seats, two point lap belts

  • Copilot seat, three point harness, controls installed.

  • Military sling seats

  • No seats, strapped to floor.

  • Doors on or off

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Brief lz notes
Brief LZ notes

  • Should be aligned with prevailing wind

  • Minimum of 60 feet on a side, clear,level and solid surface.

  • No power lines or obstacles on approach or departure path.

  • No loose items on ground.

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Lz notes ii
LZ Notes - II

  • Tell inbound pilot

    • Location

    • Elevation

    • Wind direction and speed

    • Air temperature

    • How many to go

    • Total weight

    • Type of obstacles and weight

    • What frequency you’re using.

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Lz notes iii
LZ Notes - III

  • Indicate wind speed with smoke canister

    • Tell pilot you have it, and wait for instructions.

  • Improvise windsock

    • Firmly attach it

  • Put your back to the wind, arms outstretched.

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Safety notes
Safety Notes

  • Do Not Touch Anything. Do Not Allow Canine Tail to Flip Switches!

  • Advise pilot/CC of any explosives or flammable objects, including flares.

  • Always get permission before approaching.

  • No loose objects or raised objects.

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What if s
What if’s ….

  • Equipment flies loose?

    • Let it go. Do not chase it. Inform crew.

  • Canine balks?

    • Stop, return to comfortable spot, try again.

  • Canine balks again?

    • Exit area via path you entered on.

  • Canine breaks loose.

    • Do NOT chase it. Notify tower via safety officer.

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Today s exercise helicopter
Today’s Exercise - Helicopter

  • B206B2

    • Jet Ranger w/ high skids and dual controls.

    • Seats three in back, one in front.

    • Two plus dog in back, one with no dog in front.

    • Or one plus two dogs in back, one in front.

    • Two point lap belts at all positions.

    • Crew chief and pilot.

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Today s exercise procedure
Today’s Exercise - Procedure

  • Queue at the fence and do not enter the airfield without permission from crew chief.

  • Proceed to crew chief and wait for permission from the pilot.

  • Proceed towards helicopter, escorted by CC.

  • Conduct hot load.

  • Exit along same route.

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