Ed Poccia and the Route 66 Flyers of Albuquerque gained lots of experience and acceptance at helping with search and rescue. By joining with authorities there, they added a lot of capability while fostering a valuable relationship with the community. Ed has offered to share the Operational Syllabus they use for training operations which is included below.

It’s specifically for their area west of Albuquerque but could be modified for other areas.

Rescue teams are loathe to include those who they feel may impede their own efforts or who may wind up needing rescued themselves so having a professional approach like this is important.

Thanks to Ed for sharing.

PPG Search & Rescue Operational Syllabus


  • Reg. Team with the New Mexico State Police
    • James Newberry: Office: (505) 827-9228            Mobile (505) 469 2140
    • List Team on the SAR Resource Guide for Field Coordinators
  • Reg. Team with New Mexico Field Coordinator
    • Bob Baker (505)-980-6603, (505) 853-2494, (505) 841-9256
  • Develop Contact(s) with other area SAR Teams
    • Cibola SAR, Mike Dugger, Training Officer KC5SFX, (505) 844-1091
    • Bernilillo ARES, Ed Ricco, N5LI
      • 2 meter SAR Frequencies 146.9 (+) PL67, 147.1 (+) PL 67
  • Join the New Mexico Emergency Services Council
  • Provide opportunities to demonstrate the flying characteristics of the PPG. Explain the contributions PPGs could make to the Public Service community


  • The PPG motor unit is properly maintained and is in good operating condition
  • The wing is maintained, inspected and is within the manufacturer’s specifications
  • Emergency Pack: to be carried while flying drills and missions is case a pilot is  forced down
    • Water, “space” blanket, fire starter, whistle, protein bar, tissues, chemical light stick, inspect repellent wipes, plastic tarp, map of the area….
    • small pack to hold these supplies
  • FRS radio, cell phone, VHF/UHF Ham radio programmed to SAR frequencies,microphone, plus: chargers, spare batteries, antenna, cables & connectors
  • Fuel, oil & mixing cups
  • Different types of maps of New Mexico
  • Tools, spare parts, first aid kit, insect repellant, wind sock with support pole
  • Personal items: Flight suit, helmet, gloves, hand warmers, digital camera
  • Transport system (a way to carry your PPG and tie it down)
  • Tarp 20’ x  40’ to facilitate launches on rough terrain

Pilots shall develop a personal checklist and use it to be sure all equipment needed for a SAR drill or mission is available.

Flying Skills

Pilots must learn how to do the following:

  • Set-up and launch from a variety of terrains at elevations from sea level to 9,000 feet. Pilots shall use tarps on which to layout wings to cover unprepared sites and protect sensitive habitat.
  • Perform spot landings within a 25 foot circle consistently in order to simulate landings under restricted conditions as may exist on SAR missions.
  • Hold tight altitude–able to fly consistently at an assigned altitude in a safe manner for an extended time.
  • Maintain an assigned heading while flying regardless of wind direction
  • Demonstrate an ability to develop an effective visual scan an area while flying a search pattern safely
  • Determine distances from reference points using visual and other cues
  • Fly in a high/low formation with other pilots without compromising safety
  • Fly in a staggered line formation for an extended period of time to effectively conduct a team search over a large area.
  • Be able to fly within a tight space over different types of terrain such as canyons, mesas, rolling hills, arroyos while keeping up an effective visual scan and do it safely.


  • Pilots must be able to read a magnetic compass and identify a spot on the horizon at the assigned heading.
  • Pilots can use a sectional chart to identify their location and the airspace in which they fly.
  • Pilots understand the restrictions assigned to the airspace in which they fly.
  • Pilots can read a topographic map and identify the terrain displayed.
  • Pilots can employ such knowledge to develop safe & effective flight plans.
  • Pilots can recognize a search area from the air based on landmarks displayed on a diagram presented during a drill or mission briefing
  • Pilots can use GPS technology to enhance SAR effectiveness & safety.
  • Holding an assigned heading
  • Marking waypoints to identify and confirm search pattern locations
  • Marking the location of evidence and/or search subjects
  • Using the reverse course feature to set a new course
  • Pilots can identify their location on different types of maps

Visual Scanning

  • Pilots know that the most effective method of scanning visually is to view one sector at a time with your head steady before moving it to a new sector.
  • Pilots have the visual acuity to consistently spot search targets.
  • Pilots shall have an attention span sufficient to maintain effective visual scanning over an extended period of time.


  • Pilots shall carry a radio in order to carry out needed communication with the command post and other pilots while on SAR missions and drills.
    • Pilots should carry secondary communication systems; second radio, cell phone
    • Team members should seriously consider earning a Ham Radio license to take advantage of the equipment, frequencies, and repeater system networks they could access. Such capabilities greatly enhance PPG SAR Team communication capabilities and improve pilot safety.
      • Hams should join local ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) and participate in ARES nets.
  • Pilots shall make themselves aware of the operating features of their communication devices including but not limited to: setting the frequency, private line, volume and locking the functions so they cannot be changed without operator input. The latter prevents accidentally pressing a button and ending up off frequency, or worse, transmitting on the open channel.
  • Pilots shall perform a check of the radio before takeoff. Check: the available battery power, the volume as well as the unit’s ability to transmit and receive.
  • Pilots shall use the “Who, Where, What” format when communicating over the radio. Location references are frequently made as to where you are FROM the command post (CP).
    • Example: Los Lunas Command Post, this is Yellow PPG wing, 4 miles east of the CP. I have spotted an abandoned overturned ATV in an arroyo. Please repeat the description of the vehicle used by the search subject.
      • The identity of the Command Post will usually be the name of the incident or its location. The CP’s call sign will always be included in the drill or mission briefing.
      • The station you are calling must always be given FIRST.
  • Pilots shall possess such skills as needed to direct ground units to a search target using distance and directional details
    • Example: ATV Seven, this is the yellow PPG wing directly overhead. The search target is 500 meters NW of your current position.