Some Grand Canyon hikers from years past may recognize Ken Phillips name, but it may be with mixed feelings that they recall it. The reason for this would be that Phillips is a 29-year National Park Service veteran and former chief of Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, which means that he may have been strapping you into a helicopter to rescue you out from some mishap below the rim.
These days, Phillips is still in the SAR business but on an even grander scale, if that is even possible! He is now employed by Air Center Helicopters of Fort Worth, Texas, which has established a training division, Air Center ResQ, in Flagstaff to provide high elevation rescue exercises and simulations for the military.
Northern Arizona is ideal for training soldiers for the diverse environments that they may encounter on their missions since it provides every type of environment except jungle. “Northern Arizona provides every type of environment, except jungle,” he says.
“It has the desert, mountains, canyons—like Cataract Canyon—and cliff faces. Also, a lot of the land on Babbitt Ranches mimics the savannah of Africa. These are challenging environments to provide personnel recovery or rescue missions. Access to such unique terrain in one location simply cannot be duplicated elsewhere.”
Read more about these fascinating operations in the latest Babbitt Times Review FootNotes, October 2017 newsletter. (PDF – 837 kb)