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Old 02-11-2019, 11:46 AM   #1
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For Book: Helicopter Scenario

This is what I want to happen in a book:

The position of woman's sailboat is reported by her automatic GPS after she has been missing for a while. The boat is x miles off the coast of California.

The person trying to find her doesn't want the Coast Guard notified, and he has unlimited funds.

He sends a helicopter (amphibious?) out to get eyes on the boat. It finds the boat, but there is no response. It lands in the water, or drops an inflatable and two people into the water. Those people go to the boat. Woman is dead. The two say they'll pilot the boat to port and tell the chopper to go back.

Alternatively, they could hire another boat to accomplish the same thing.

The helicopter would be more dramatic, but perhaps it's too unrealistic.

Your thoughts?

Ideas for x (distance from coast)?

Thanks!
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:09 PM   #2
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Helicopters are rare compared to boats, And need a pilot, vs a boat is fairly basic (power boat) to run if you can find the keys.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:21 PM   #3
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I took a 60 mile round trip in a helicopter a couple of years ago and it was no problem at all. Went to Chicago on a photo shoot where we swooped down low enough to photograph ground level buildings. I think it took about 20-25 minutes to fly the approx 30 miles.

So I think it would be reasonable for a helicopter to reach your boat at least 30 miles off shore quickly. And it would be easy for a helicopter to get close enough to a boat to see what’s going on.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:32 PM   #4
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A helicopter would possibly trigger a radar signature from one of our Air Traffic Control (LA Center, Oakland Center, etc). If not on a flight plan, they might be reported to the Coast Guard or military for intercept?
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:47 PM   #5
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you want them to jump into water=seal style, more drama, make it night time.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
This is what I want to happen in a book:

The position of woman's sailboat is reported by her automatic GPS after she has been missing for a while. The boat is x miles off the coast of California.

The person trying to find her doesn't want the Coast Guard notified, and he has unlimited funds.

He sends a helicopter (amphibious?) out to get eyes on the boat. It finds the boat, but there is no response. It lands in the water, or drops an inflatable and two people into the water. Those people go to the boat. Woman is dead. The two say they'll pilot the boat to port and tell the chopper to go back.

Alternatively, they could hire another boat to accomplish the same thing.

The helicopter would be more dramatic, but perhaps it's too unrealistic.

Your thoughts?

Ideas for x (distance from coast)?

Thanks!
I realize you have full "literary license" ....but a few random thoughts from a random guy who knows just a little bits of this and that:

Boat "gone for a while" - is this a few hours missing? Days? Weeks? Just 1 day afloat in the Pacific could push the boat a number of directions. Was she anchored? how deep is the water? (It can get fairly deep fairly quickly). And which GPS device is this? A boating GPS that has a link to someone? A cell phone wouldn't have service that far out.

Drone in lieu of helicopter - Is this person with deep pockets more into using a drone (if you want to make it high-tech and draw in more younger readers?) That way, no one else knows about the boat location (like a helicopter pilot). If the person looking for the boat is evil, they could even hire an independent contractor that uses drones for aerial views of real estate listing pictures, then 'dispose of' the drone operator after they find the boat to eliminate loose ends. Maybe as a 'gotcha', the drone operator's video camera automatically backs up the video feed, and the start of the drone's flight shows the drone operator and the evil guy in the camera view.

Decomposition - has this unfortunate lass been laying in a little dinghy in the sun and heat for several days? Her corpse would be already starting to decompose. Even if it's a $50k boat with a lower cabin, decomposition in conditions like that would proceed over just a few days.
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:03 PM   #7
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Decomposition - has this unfortunate lass been laying in a little dinghy in the sun and heat for several days? Her corpse would be already starting to decompose. Even if it's a $50k boat with a lower cabin, decomposition in conditions like that would proceed over just a few days.
I don't know...I saw a story not too long ago about a sailor who died at sea and they found his mummified body.

Edit: story link.
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:28 PM   #8
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I don't know...I saw a story not too long ago about a sailor who died at sea and they found his mummified body.

Edit: story link.
Crazy to know that a body can be mummified in 3 to 4 years time out in the ocean air. Makes you wonder why they never found the wallet. A non-fiction with some mystery is the best form of mystery. Curiosity killed the cat.
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:30 PM   #9
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I'd cringe at landing a helicopter in the ocean. Yes, the ability exists, but for perfectly flat water only.
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:37 PM   #10
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I'm leaning toward hiring a fishing boat with a crusty old captain to find it and having the seas be rough ("We have to head back, it's too rough." "No. We might never find it. She might need help." "No, too rough." "Wait. There it is!").

The sailboat has been out of contact for a few weeks.



The woman's dad ("... and don't contact the Coast Guard. I do NOT trust the Govment!") will have hired the PIs who are trying to find her.

Her body will be down in the cabin. Any amount of decomposition will work ("My God, Alex, do you think she died of that bird flu that's been on the news?").
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Old 02-12-2019, 04:17 PM   #11
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Since it's the future (battery energy density has increased, so you have plenty of range), you could have a multi-rotor aircraft that's designed to encounter boats in the open water. The coast guard was the first to have them so they could catch drug trafficking Cigarette boats. In calm water, once the boat was stopped, the craft could hover next to the stopped boat, deploy a ramp so the coast guard officers could board the suspect's boat. But now these multi-rotor crafts are showing up in the private sector and although they're good for boarding in 1.5 foot seas, your scenario will be a rush to beat a storm. By the time they get there, the seas have kicked-up past the safe ramp deployment level, but the need is just too great. Maybe a water rescue, then finally aboard the sailboat.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:14 PM   #12
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Just returned from a cruise where a cg helo dropped people and picked an injured person via a basket. 500 miles out in gulf of mex. seas wouldnt make much diff, just be surefooted when landing on deck.
Thot this was way unusual, went to utube...happens quite a bit.
An aside, we were out in a forrest of oil rigs, they use private helos.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:32 PM   #13
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I would look more at at amphibian fixed wing aircraft. I know there are Grumman Albatross (SA-16) and maybe a Catalina or two out there.
They have a greater range than a helicopter.
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