. E-mail This Article

More spotters trained

CASARA certifies new group

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 18/00) - Let's just say that flying around the Arctic at low altitudes isn't exactly a new activity for Steven Atkinson.

Familiar with the terrain -- and the often stormy, turbulent flying conditions -- the Iqaluit resident and polar bear biologist realized he might have something to offer the local chapter of the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association.

He's one of a group of 15 volunteers who are trained and ready to assist the in search missions from the air, CASARA has a long history in the North.

Four different zones currently exist in Nunavut and cover the High Arctic, Kivalliq, Kitikmeot and south Baffin regions.

"I was interested in getting involved in something in the community and I figured I'd spent enough time flying around searching for polar bears on the ice that I had something to contribute," said Atkinson.

A call went out for members and Atkinson put his name forward.

Bert Rose, CASARA's zone director, was all too happy to accept Atkinson, along with more than a dozen other residents, as volunteers.

Contacted earlier this month as two plane loads of volunteers were in the air successfully completing a spotter flight training course, Rose said their efforts helped a great deal when it came to mounting search and rescue missions from the air.

"It means that if an aircraft goes down...we'd have people prepared to get on an aircraft knowing what to expect and knowing what kind of routines to use during a formal search."