Air Canada Flight Participates in Search & Rescue of Stranded Boat: An Australian sailboat was stranded somewhere off Southeastern coast of the continent when an Air Canada flight swooped down and spotted it, reports the CBC.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) received a distress call at 8:15am on Tuesday from a boat more than 300 miles off the coast of Sydney. The condition of the boat and passengers were unknown and it was too far from shore to quickly respond without knowing the exact location. The AMSA decided to try consulting commercial flight paths.
In an act straight out of Hollywood, an air traffic controller requested that an inbound Air Canada flight divert and fly over the possible rescue area to participate in search and rescue. After determining if they had enough fuel, the crew on the Boeing 777 immediately diverted the aircraft.
Most airlines fly at tens of thousands of feet above sea level, but to assist with the search they needed to be able to see the surface ocean. The airplane dropped to only 3,700 feet and began the search.
Inside, the crew borrowed binoculars from passengers as the captain announced their intentions and asked everyone to help by looking out the windows.
Almost immediately the boat was spotted, and several hours later the lone sailor was rescued by a police boat. The sailor was likely out of fuel and had been washed out to sea. He had left Sydney two weeks before.
Though the flight was delayed 90 minutes, the passengers and crew were, "really happy and excited about the outcome," said the CBC. via CBC