How to not go missing!


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, 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!

One response to “How to not go missing!”

  1. […] Despite landing at just after 3pm I didn’t get home until about 11.30pm – my buddy Mike Humphries went “missing” for four hours so we had a bit of fun and games trying to track him down. Long story short, unbeknown to me we’d been flying together (he’d changed his helmet recently meaning that I didn’t recognise him in the air) and after I’d landed he went on to fly another 10kms, landing just past Llandrindod Wells. All well and good, but his phone had completely died (yes, not just battery problems), and so he was out of contact until he borrowed a stranger’s phone and eventually got hold of me at 8pm, by which time I was well over half way home (in his car)! He had no prospect of getting back home that evening by train, so I turned around, crossed the Servern for the second time that day, and eventually met him in Crickhowell… Ah well, all’s well that ends well, and in actual fact we all learned something that day, which I’ve summarised here. […]

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