Originally Posted by daughter
I have heard this is the last day the airforce will look for them.
I don't want to give false hope but I spent a couple of years as an observer in surveillance aircraft (mainly CASA, Cessna Caravans and Britten-Norman Islanders) and one thing was very clear - a PIW (Person In the Water) was very difficult to spot from an aircraft unless (s)he had a flare or smoke generator of some sort. If the aircraft was fitted with a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) camera it also helped.
From a helicopter things were often a bit better as the lower sped helped the observer not to miss things.
I have no knowledge if the SA Air Force has FLIR equipped aircraft. I believe the plane used for oil pollution detection does have but that is tasked by Marine and Coastal Management and not the Air Force. At Thunder City (Cape Town) there were a couple of low airframe hour DAKS with new engines and props which had been converted for maritime surveillance work and were very competent machines but these, I believe, went back Stateside where they were owned due to lack of work for them in Africa.
All hope is not out yet. There is still a slim chance that the guys are alive and there are still ships in the area Don't be thrown by the lack of aerial surveillance. However, do not be blinded by hope. Keep hoping but accept that the survival chances diminish hour by hour. Prepare for the worst
and should fortune smile on you, you will get a wonderful surprise. If not, you will be better prepared to deal with the situation.
As before, if you need any support I can give, bearing in mind the distance between us, do not hesitate to ask. We sailors are a strange bunch, as I am sure you already know. We can be annoyingly independent but we always are willing to help fellow sailors and their families when the need arises.
Aye // Stephen