It's happened many times in our region: a boater or swimmer goes missing and rescue crews have to swing into action.  

Today those rescuers were practicing their skills high over Georgian Bay.

A C130 Hercules swooped down over Collingwood Airport this morning before two search and rescue technicians parachuted to the scene of a “plane crash” south of the main runway.

Pilot Doug Ronan watched this search and rescue exercise unfold. He says all aircraft are required to carry emergency locating transmitters in the event of a crash and the rescuers homed right in on the beacon.

“It’s quite interesting to see how they pinpoint where the airplane is, then they have to figure out which way the wind is blowing so the parachuters can hit the spot where the airplane is, it's very accurate,” he says.

Search and rescue operations for the Great Lakes region are deployed from The Joint Rescue Command Centre in Trenton. And the summer boating season is their busiest time. Marine rescues account for 70 per cent of the 3,500 calls for help they receive each year.

Today’s training included a search for a sinking boat on Georgian Bay and coordinated effort with civilian aircraft to search for a downed plane in the lake. Camille Riggs is a volunteer with CASRA (the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association) and is an extra set of eyes when an airplane goes missing.

“If they are going out on a long search and they want extra spotters on boards, they will call CASARA and they might have three or four CASARA spotters on board to help with the search,” says Riggs.

First Officer James Wood says the Hercules aircraft can't stop to help but is equipped with everything from life rafts to winter survival gear, which the crew can drop on target. The parachutists, also known as SAR techs, are highly trained and ready to go.

“The search and rescue technicians are highly trained personnel,” Wood says. “They are very good parachutists, they are qualified paramedics as well mountain climbers and divers, so all of the SAR techs have all of these qualifications. They have a massive amount of training, so we can deploy them anywhere in Canada in any scenario and they are going to be able to assist a person and provide medical aid.”

The Hercules and its crew will take their training exercise in Quebec tomorrow before returning to base in Trenton where they will be ready fly in the event of any emergency at any time.