3 Flare SightingsIn the event of a flare getting reported to JRCC, there a a number of questions which will need to be asked to narrow down the area to be searched.In the event a rescue vessel sights a flare, it is useful for them to know what information they will be asked for and why.
5 Flare Types - Parachute Uses parachute to provide maximum illumination/ detection timeVisible over a large areaRapid rise, slow descentAverage height: feet14-20 mile nominal range30-40 second burn duration
6 Flare Types - Twin Star B Rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals, shot from a pistol or pen gunRapid rise, rapid decentAverage height: feet15-17 mile nominal range5.5 second min. burn durationRed or orange
7 Flare Types - Hand C • Steady burn • No apparent rise or fall • second burn duration• 8-16 mile nominal range• No altitude
9 Flare Height The angle of observation can be determined from: 1. Angle above the horizon2. Angle below the horizon3. Origin to apex
10 Flare HeightAngle of observation. Often the reporting source will not be able to accurately estimate the angle of elevation without some assistance.The angle of elevation is the angle measured from the horizon to the top of the trajectory.If the origin of the flare is observed, the reporting source may measure the angle from the origin to the top of the trajectory.
11 Flare HeightThis method of determining the angle may be helpful when the horizon cannot be seen or used as a reference.Unless the reporting source’s height of eye is greater than the height of the flare at the top of its trajectory, the flare will normally appear to rise above the horizon.
13 Flare Height 1If the flare is observed above the horizon at the apex of its trajectory, then its distance from the reporting source will depend on the reporting source’s height of eye, the observed angle above the horizon and the height of the flare above the surface.
14 Flare Height 2If the reporting source is high enough, and the flare is low enough at the top of its trajectory, then it will not appear to rise above the horizon.
16 Flare Height 2If this happens,then the flare must be between the reporting source and the horizon.Angles below the horizon will only occur when the reporting source is really high up, such as in an aircraft.
17 Flare Height 2If this happens,then the flare must be between the reporting source and the horizon.Angles below the horizon will only occur when the reporting source is really high up, such as in an aircraft
19 Flare Height 3The reporting source may not have a visible horizon to use as a reference for measuring angles, but may be able to estimate the angle between the origin and maximum height of the flare.Because the origin can be seen, the flare must be closer than the distance of the horizon, if the horizon could be seen.
20 Flare Height 3You may not be able to see the distress object, but you were able to see where itcame from.This angle is the angle from the Origin to the Apex (peak).
21 Flare Height Estimation The closed fist method is best for estimating the height of a flare.
22 Flare Height Estimation Unless the reporting source’s height of eye is greater than the height of the flare at the top of its trajectory, the flare will normally appear to rise above the horizon.In this situation, when the bottom of the fist is aligned on the horizon relatively accurate estimates of small vertical angles can be made.
23 Flare Height Estimation Brief the reporting source on this reference system. “If you hold your fist at arm’s length, with your thumb on top and the bottom of your fist on the horizon, was the top of the trajectory above or below the top of your fist?”If the flare was sighted below the top of the fist, have the reporting source attempt to more accurately estimate the angle with the horizon.
24 Flare Height Estimation With hand-held flares, and even twin star flares if the reporting source is high enough, the flare may not rise above the visible horizon if it originates between the reporting source and the horizon.The reporting source should be then be asked to align the top of the index finger with the horizon and estimate the apparent distance below the horizon using the fist method described above.
25 Flare Height Estimation Not more than ____° Not less than __°
26 Flare Height Estimation Estimates of 3 fingers or half a hand can be extremely useful.Obtain the final estimate in terms such as not less than 1/2 half and not more than one and a half hands.Convert number of fingers of fractions of hands to degrees based upon the figure above.Each finger equals 2 degrees.
27 Flare Height Estimation An estimate of “definitely less than a fist, but definitely more than a quarter of a fist,” translated to degrees as definitely less than 8 degrees but more than 4 degrees, can tremendously limit the datum area as compared with, “I can only say less than a fist.”
28 Flare Height Estimation The objective is to “bracket” or estimate the bounds of the area containing the sighted flare without covering substantially too much or too little area.
32 Flare BearingDepending on the accuracy of the position of the observer, will depend on the circle of error drawn around the position.If they were driving along a road at the time, the radius of the circle will be larger.
34 Flare BearingThere are several means by which a bearing may be estimated:(a) clock method, where the line of bearing is determined by referring to the direction as points on a clock, with twelve o’clock being perpendicular to the reporting source in relation to the shoreline or building where the reporting source is located.
37 Flare BearingIf the reporting source has difficulty in confidently estimating direction, amplifying information, such as the following, should be obtained:(a) direction relative to the street direction,(b) direction relative to a line passing through reporting source’s position and another prominent landmark or reference point,
38 Flare Bearing(c) identity of prominent landmarks on either side of the line of bearing from the reporting source to the flare,(d) direction relative to the trend of the shoreline in that area, or(e) direction relative to the line between the reporting source and the moon or a star or constellation the reporting source can confidently identify.
39 Flare Bearing How do we do that? Obtain a true &/or relative facing. Bearing relative to any visible aid to navigation.If nothing else, use the shoreline as a reference point.
40 Flare BearingIn this example the observer is at home at a known address, his house is parallel to the coast, and the line of bearing was at his 1 o’clock looking out the window, and just to the left of a flashing (3) white light.
42 Flare Bearing Helpful Information to Obtain Aircraft/vessels seen in vicinity. If the reporting source can see the vessel being illuminated by the flare then the flare is inside the horizon.If an aircraft was seen, it may be possible to correlate this report with reports, if any, from the aircraft.
43 Flare BearingIt may also be possible to correlate the report with aircraft positions (from radar or radar playback) at the time of the sighting.Obstructions. Information about obstructions can be of value in several ways.
44 Flare Bearing(a) Gauging distance. For example, a flare seen to rise/descend in front of an island clearly indicates the maximum distance to the flare is the distance to the island. If seen behind an obstruction it clearly indicates the minimum distance is the obstruction distance.(b) Determining direction. Flares seen over or between identifiable obstructions give the reporting source a reference for determining direction.
45 Flare Bearing(c) Estimating angle of elevation. For example, a flare seen over the top of a nearby stand of 60 ft trees by a reporting source standing on the ground (assuming level terrain) means the flare could not have been fired from a distance very far beyond the tree line.On scene weather and visibility. This can be useful in limiting the area to be searched.
46 Flare BearingAscertain how visibility was determined, such as from objects that are just visible at a known range. Keep in mind that horizontal visibility factors, such as ground fog, may not limit the visibility for a meteor or parachute flare as much as for a hand-held flare.
47 Search ObjectWhen a flare is observed at night, the initial search object should be the distress signaling device unless other information indicates a specific object, such as the reporting source observing the point of origin (vessel, PIW, etc.).
50 Search Area Determination This is what the flare plot looks like, and is known as a flare cone.The circle with the x in it is the reporting source’s position, with an error circle around it that reflects the confidence in their known position.The more uncertain they are, the bigger the error circle.
51 Search Area Determination The center line is the line of bearing, and the lines to the left and right, the angle with the error circle, represent our confidence with the angle’s certainty.The more uncertain we are with the bearing, the wider the angle.We’re going to cap it off with the maximum range, then put in the minimum range (bracketed from the “fist method”).
52 Search Area Determination The area in between the max and min ranges form our search area.
54 Search Area Determination Type A flare may be seen at least 10 nautical miles ( nautical miles nominal)Type B flares may be seen at 8 nautical miles ( nautical miles nominal)Type C flares may seen at 8 nautical miles ( nautical miles nominal) but is entirely dependent upon the height of the observer.
55 Search Area Determination If the visibility is only 4 nautical miles from the observer, then the search would not be out to 10 nautical miles.However remember that a flare can rise above a fog bank with near zero visibility, and may be seen by someone above the fog bank for miles.
57 Review What do we use to obtain sighting data? Rapid rise, slow descent?Rapid rise, rapid descent?Steady?What method do we use to determine a line of bearing for a flare?Method used to obtain angle of observation?