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Mailbag: Left-brained rescuer played key role in search

April 09, 2013

Re. "He heard what sounded like a voice," (April 5): Kudos to reporter Lauren Williams for describing something that is rarely done well: how the mind of a slide-rule-carrying, pocket-protector type of person works.

As someone of that persuasion, I thoroughly enjoyed her spot-on description of how Costa Mesa resident John Sendrey methodically went about optimizing his chances of finding the missing hiker, Kyndall Jack.

Williams tells us that Sendrey researched what had already been done so he wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel. That he brought along electronic devices to tap into technology that perhaps hadn't been fully utilized yet. And that he stayed up all night, like a true geek, analyzing what he had discovered.

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Then she tells us that he confidently set off, heedless of convention (on his own when it was still dark), to the area that logic told him would be the most fruitful place to search.

Along the way, she further gets us into his optimizing mind by relating his thoughts about where his voice would travel the farthest, on a ridgetop or in a valley.

We don't know if he was fueled by the standard geek menu of Coke and cold pizza, but his commitment paid off: He spotted Jack and texted his GPS coordinates so the Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopter crew could find the hiker.

Then he got on his bicycle and, taking four buses, finally returned home to Costa Mesa.

All these little reporting details add up to a satisfying — and validating — picture of geekdom in full flower.

Tom Egan

Costa Mesa

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Helicopter program

Please consider using a term other than "now-defunct" when describing the former joint law enforcement helicopter program from Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, the Airborne Law Enforcement (ABLE).

While the definition may be technically correct, the connotation seems to infer some type of failure or mismanagement of the program. This would be the furthest from the truth.

The men and women who worked for ABLE served with distinction and honor, doing their best in a law enforcement aviation tradition that combined for more than 40 years the efforts of the two cities. ABLE was destroyed by Costa Mesa politicians who could not see the forest for the trees.

Does not the fact that former ABLE pilots volunteered to assist, and were welcomed by the Orange County Sheriff's Department, in the search of the lost hikers speak to the distinction of the former pilots of ABLE and the program? I'm also wondering if the need for the assistance of a volunteer aircraft and pilots does not highlight the gap in O.C. law enforcement aviation assets.

Thomas Fischbacher

Costa Mesa

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