On Thursday 5th April we had a pilot “missing” for four hours in mid Wales after an XC flight from Magic Mountain. Fortunately it all ended well (no injuries, no drama, just no comms and a late retrieve), but it has raised some good learning points which we can all benefit from:
1) As soon as is sensibly possible let people know that you’ve landed safely, preferably by using a Telegram retrieve group and xcrt.aero, but if that’s not possible then let someone in your car share or close flying buddies group know where you are and what your intentions are. It is YOUR responsibility to do this at the earliest opportunity.
2) Make sure you have the numbers of half a dozen flying buddies printed out and in your wallet so that in the event of complete phone failure (as happened yesterday) you can get the message out that you’re ok. Don’t be shy in asking to borrow a stranger’s phone to check-in ASAP. Alternatively carry a spare phone with you.
3) Ensure that people know what kit you’re flying with and how to recognise you in the air. Part of yesterday’s problem was that the pilot in question had recently changed helmet from an orange one to a blue one, meaning that even though I was flying with him for much of the flight, I didn’t recognise him! Telegram has a “Bio” feature, so use that to put a brief (70 chars max) description of your wing, helmet and harness. DO THAT NOW! (Thanks to Viv Fouracre for that suggestion). At the very least, make sure that the pilots in your car share group can all recognise each other in the air.
4) Consider using a livetracking service – Livetrack24, AirWhere, Flymaster Live, SPOT, inReach etc
5) And last but not least, whilst driving to the hill, have a chat about possible retrieve plans – who picks up the car, will they drive to collect people, what happens if we get to goal etc. Obviously things will change, but it’s good to have discussed the options beforehand.
These are super-simple action points which will put your mates’ minds at rest, and prevent unnecessary emergency service call-outs. PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW!
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