Archive Index


AIR10/6200 & AIR2/12264
SARAH (Search and Rescue and Homing) beacon

notes by Paul Fuller


gave technical details on SARAH (Search And Rescue And Homing), which had been developed for the Ministry of Supply for the Navy, RAF and civilian ships and aircraft, and which was a standard NATO piece of equipment. There is an excellent photo and diagrams showing where the detecting aerials for SARAH had to be positioned on search and rescue aircraft and helicopters.

When operating at its maximum power of 15 Watts SARAH could be detected up to 60 Nautical Miles away by an aircraft flying at 10,000 feet, and up to 6 miles away by a rescue launch with a 30 foot aerial. The beacon could last for 20 hours on full power and I think it could also be used as a telephone.


described how SARAH was chosen instead of TALBE (which was preferred by the Royal Navy), had been developed by Utra Electric Limited of Western Avenue [the A40], Acton, W3 and tested at Boscombe Down in December 1955. The British Joint communications-Electronics Board at the Admiralty (minutes were copied to the Air Ministry).

There was an interesting comment by Wing Commander M.C. Bunting in a loose minute dated 27 September 1955 which said that "accurate fixes will not always be readily available at low level. Navigational errors of up to 4 to 5 miles might occur".

Hugely ironically SARAH had also been tested at Wright Field near Dayton Ohio 26/7/54-3/9/54 by the USAF.

I tried to track down SARAH's role with the Atomic Research unit and was very pleased to find out that there was an Atomic Energy Research unit at Hamilton Dock Lowestoft. File MAF209/315 gives details of this unit's work but there is no mention of balloons. The unit investigated the effect of radioactive waste on fishing stocks.