By Darryl Ramm – ASH-26E – 6DX

The following is a copy of the thread posted by Darryl Ramm, on 6/15/2017, on the Williams Today Forum.
  (Editor (Peter) : Pending direct input from Darryl, I deleted the first couple of paragraphs of the referenced post))

General Spot and InReach suggestions, please criticize and offer improvements.

1. Never land and just turn off your tracking device. The last data point reported might be 10 or 20 minutes (if a datapoint is missed) and many miles from the airport, all people know who are not local is the situation in something happened in range between you landed safely at the destination or your dead body is within some radius around that last datapoint.

2. At a minimum when when you land leave the tracking device on and pointing at the sky for ~20 minutes so that it can go through several transmit cycles so it can report you are at the destination. But that has issues, it’s easy to do stuff that might reduce the satellite coverage, e.g. if your tracker is on your canopy rails and you lift up the canopy, or on your parachute harness and you take off the parachute and lay it down somewhere, etc.

3 Even better get into the habit of manually sending a “OK” message after landing. And especially with Spot leave the tracker on and pointing at the sky or 10 minutes or so to make sure that “OK” message gets out. Practice doing that at every landing. You can’t just press OK and therm put away the device. The device may not have been able to transmit to satellites in direct line of sight.

4. Be sensitive to people who might be tracking you who are not at the gliderport, that may be a spouse or friends or somebody you may not expect if you tracker is public. For all those folks take extra care to let them know you landed safely by sending an OK or similar preset message to MapShare)

5. If you land out and need a retrieve and have a tracking device, use it, send a “help” message. That gives the gliderport and/your crew quick exactly location. I saw time wasted the other day with two glider retrieves, both with Spot where we had to waste time working out where they were. And there is certainly no reason that that folks who are trying to help out should be waiting for a ~10 or 20 minute satellite tracker update to see where a glider is.

6. If you land out and are seriously injured and need medical care then send an SOS message and if you have a PLB or ELT then activate that as well. Realize that any of those will trigger messages to emergency services. At least with the SOS the gliderport and your crew can see you have activated that.

7. If you have a InReach you obviously can send more detailed messages. But what messages and to who? And what about others watching your location who are not getting those messages? What might they do? What do you want them to do?

And some other comments…

If your spouse, or friends, crew etc. and folks at the gliderport are following your tracker, does everybody have a plan and know what they are expected to do?

Do you have all the contacts you might need in the InReach contact list? An email for the gliderport?

Do folks know how to location ping an InReach device?…And that only works if the user leaves the device on an with a sky view.

Do people trying to message back to an InReach device understand the ~10 minute typical lag? Which is why you can’t waste time having a conversation. Send what you need/want folks to do in a single clear message.

And finally if you are looking at these devices and have not purchased one already, just get an Garmin InReach, they report altitude and allow two way SMS, email and inReach to InReach device messaging. It seems that Spot is trying to introduce altitude reporting with their 3rd generation Spot devices some of which have started reporting altitude data, but so far altitude reported is unreliable on those devices,

I used to fly with a Spot, I’m buying a Garmin InReach.