Combining Passion with a Purpose

Stan French flies his Cessna 172 over North Bay and surrounding area during a BAYSAR training exercise. Photo by: Corporal Joseph Morin, Imagery Technician

Article by: Lieutenant Leah Pierce, Public Affairs

The Laurentian Escarpment that shoulders North Bay is a beautiful site in the fall. Bold colours entice travelers to the area to hike among the rushing waters, rocks and trees that make up Duchesnay Falls. For a Toronto woman Saturday, November 19th, 2011 turned out to be a day filled with anxiety when a simple walk in the woods lead to a frantic call for help to the police by a friend. This is where volunteers from BAYSAR, including pilot Captain Stan French, came to the rescue.

While nine North Bay Police conducted ground search and rescue Capt French, a full time civilian Mental Health Nurse and a Reserve Nursing Officer with the Canadian Forces since 1989, piloted his Cessna 172 with a spotter and navigator lending air search and rescue skills.

Roughly two hours after receiving the distress call, members of BAYSAR located the lightly clothed hiker and guided officers to her location where she was found safe and in good health.

French, who obtained his private pilot’s licence as an Air Cadet back in 1971, has been the president of BAYSAR since April 2011. “A friend suggested I volunteer with BAYSAR as a way to keep flying.” But it wasn’t just his passion for flying that lured him to air search and rescue, “BAYSAR has been instrumental in saving people’s lives.”

Approximately sixteen volunteer members of BAYSAR cover 150 nautical miles around North Bay which has extended outside the boundary to include places like Sault Ste. Marie. When not on search and rescue missions French and crew conduct ground training and search and recovery missions.

Turning 58 in May, what does French look forward to once retired? More time to volunteer with BAYSAR.

To learn more about BAYSAR or how to become a volunteer visit baysar.net or call 705-497-2024