There are a number of things you can do to make things easier for
yourself on XC excursions. Prior to flight, set up a reliable telephone
contact for messages. Designate a specific route and goal and if you
decide to deviate in flight be certain your crew understands first.
It makes retrieval faster and is a big factor in reducing stress for
your crew (and loved ones).
Establish a designated regional radio communication frequency.
Establish communications protocols
Take action on a regional / club basis to prevent accidents by pre-identifying
Make it Standard Operating Procedure to initiate cautionery advice
to other pilots at risk of entering areas of known adverse turbulance,
known rotor or other hazardous physical environmental flying conditions.
Carry good maps, a small mirror for signaling, rope, a basic first
aid, a swiss army knife with saw, fluid and emergency food supplies.
Your glider makes for great shelter, and is highly visible to search
parties looking for you - don't break down! A parachute can be rolled
up into an effective sleeping bag.
One of big time tips is to learn proper radio lingo (terminology).
With distant communications, short simple words don't transmit well
so words such as "yes" and "no" have been substituted by "Affirmative"
and "Negative". For critical communications it's essential to know
the phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and so forth) to spell
out important words, ONE LETTER AT A TIME.
The next is to remember that the best intentions of men, women and
mice will inevitably result in a dead battery! Arrange to make radio
contact on the 1/4 or 1/2 hour for 5 minutes intervals so you can
shut down and save battery. (You may have to wire in an external on/off
switch.) While ground crew can monitor you constantly, teach them
to stop at high ground points to eliminate vehicle noise and
obstacles between you. Identify common road names and land marks on
their map so you both refer to the same place.
But when your radio dies - and sooner or later it's a gonna happen
- there is one technique that can save your hide. As your radio battery
dies it can receive quite well for quite some time. BUT the transmit
burst noise generated by pressing and releasing the microphone button
is broadcast long after its ability to transmit spoken words has faded
out. By preparing your crew for this eventuality, or for occasions
where you are too busy to carry on extended conversations, train them
to ask leading questions or deliver information to which you can respond
with single "click" for No or "Double click" for Yes. Questions such
as "Are you still flying?", "Have you flown past
____?" "Ground wind is ______" can go a long way
towards reducing stress on both sides.
On a final note:
Voice activated microphones are a personal "soar" point. Heavy breathing
or wind noises cause needless transmissions - eliminating others pilots
use of the channel and drains the batteries bigtime. Cover the mike
with a thick foam or replace it with a switch activated system.
So have fun, fly high and far. There'll always be another day tomorrow.
"If it don't feel good, don't do it."