Local Pilot Baron Smith was involved in a rescue operation on the high seas late last month.
Antigonish born and raised, Smith completed his multi-engine commercial pilot license in 1997,
he began working with Provincial Airlines Limited, which is now PAL Aerospace. He is currently the director of Caribbean operations with PAL Aerospace, and is responsible for Dash-8 flight operations with Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard as well as in Service Support for the Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard.
On May 27, Curacao Rescue Coordination Centre received a report of a distress call from a tanker, with the vessel sinking and crew abandoning ship. Smith was piloting a Dash-8 MP aircraft which was dispatched to help recover survivors. After spotting people in the water, they alerted the survivors by flying overhead with lights on but the decision to drop rafts was delayed due to not wanting to drop flares in dark because of the presence of oil. Two vessels, the UBC Stavanger, and MV Melba were directed to the scene.
At daylight, they were able to drop rafts without smoke markers and two groups of survivors were picked up by the two vessels. In total, 14 people were pulled out of the water.
Smith said this was the biggest search and rescue of which he’s been a part.
Smith also gave credit to the training crews received in Eastern Canada.