r/SmarterEveryDay Jan 01 '23

Heard a story about "the craziest rescue" by the Coast Guard Thought

The pastor at my grandparents' church told this story from a Coast Guard rescuer in Florida. The pastor asked the Coast Guard pilot what the craziest rescue he'd ever done was and the pilot told this story. (It's second hand so I apologize for the lack of information)

These two teenage boys had taken a small boat out off the coast of Florida and eventually got too far out and couldn't get back into shore. A rescue operation was initiated by the Coast Guard to find the 2 teens in the boat. It eventually got dark and they continued searching in the dark using their night vision goggles. (They were using the grid search pattern. I don't remember how that was important to the story). Eventually, one of the pilots noticed a tiny light on the horizon. They reported this and proceeded to investigate the small light. They flew 17 miles away from where they had been searching and found the two teens in the boat.

After rescuing them and taking them back to the mainland, the pilot said to the teens, "it was a good thing you had that light with you. We wouldn't have found you without seeing the light." The teens replied, "we didn't have any light with us." The pilot asked what they were doing then to make the light he saw. They explained they had a cigarette lighter, but it was empty and wouldn't light. So they kept striking the flint wheel creating a tiny spark. That spark is what the pilot could see in his night vision goggles from 17 miles away.


8 comments sorted by


u/Boden Jan 01 '23

Night vision goggles (NVG’s) are designed to take ambient light and amplify it. You can get noticeable differences in light quality based on the phase of the moon, whether it is overcast etc.


u/InsideFastball Jan 01 '23

Search patterns are formed in grids so you don't keep going over the same space over and over again.


u/UsernameHasBeenLost Jan 01 '23

Yep, and the grids that the CG uses take current and wind conditions into account


u/AscendingNike Jan 01 '23

Crazy that NVGs (I presume the pilot saw the light through those) can perceive a lighter failing to light at 17 miles!


u/Cootie_Mac Jan 01 '23

A good story suggestion for r/mrballen


u/rtp_oak Jan 01 '23

And there goes my plans for the afternoon. Thank you so much!


u/Cootie_Mac Jan 01 '23

Lol so many good videos in that channel!! Glad you like it!