Chopper Pilot Rescued After Frozen Lake Crash

Global Rescue

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Apr 7, 2011
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Article Highlights:​

  • A Zoleo satellite device alerted Global Rescue and set in motion the rescue of a helicopter pilot who crashed into a frozen Canadian lake.
  • Global Rescue coordinated with Canadian first responders and ensured the pilot’s safe extraction from the remote location.
  • The successful rescue underscores the critical role of satellite communication in emergency situations, showcasing the effectiveness of technology in remote wilderness scenarios.
“We always recommend that if you’re traveling, especially to remote locations where cellular service is not absolutely guaranteed, to pack a satellite phone or messaging device and extra batteries,” said Harding Bush, associate director Global Rescue Security Operations, and a former Navy SEAL with extensive mountain and cold weather operations expertise.

That’s a mindset that helped save a helicopter pilot who crashed in a remote, frozen Canadian lake.

Global Rescue and ZOLEO, a satellite communications device company, were instrumental in saving the pilot who crashed on the lake about 97 nautical miles (180 kilometers) north of Goose Bay Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. He was medevaced to safety “with minor injuries,” according to reports by CTV News and CBC News.

The pilot was rescued by the 103rd Search and Rescue Squadron Gander of the Royal Canadian Air Force after Global Rescue received an SOS emergency notification via a ZOLEO device.

“When Global Rescue received the SOS alert via the ZOLEO device, emergency rescue coordinators in our operations center immediately notified the appropriate first responders and then attempted two-way communication with the individual sending the alert,” said Jeff Weinstein, a paramedic and a medical operations manager for Global Rescue.

“When we could not establish communication with the pilot, we reached out to Custom Helicopter, the next emergency contact listed, to determine if they were missing any aircraft,” Weinstein said.

First responders from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Joint Rescue Coordination Center scrambled rescue resources. Three military helicopters were guided by precise GPS coordinates provided by Global Rescue and the ZOLEO device to the wreckage.


The upside down-cockpit of the helicopter following the crash.

The pilot was flying alone between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Nunavut, according to a statement from Joseph Galimberti, a spokesperson for the Exchange Income Corporation, Custom Helicopters’ parent company. The pilot was in good condition and has been released from medical care, Galimberti said.

“Without Global Rescue’s swift action and coordination with Canadian first responders, triggered by the SOS alert from the ZOLEO device, the pilot’s extraction to safety might not have been possible,” Weinstein said.

“Our partnership with Global Rescue provides ZOLEO subscribers with access to their award-winning emergency response, and dispatch capabilities, ensuring they can obtain help in an emergency. Working seamlessly with first responders, Global Rescue plays a crucial role in helping return ZOLEO users to safety in situations like this,” said Morris Shawn, President of ZOLEO Inc.

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