These are our current best practices for planning a day of XC flying. You don’t have to do it this way, but it works better if we all do it the same way.


For more information on the items in these checklists, check the details in the following sections.

Pilots (before the day)

☐ Make sure you are in the ACTHPA Telegram group,
☐ Download the XC Contacts spreadsheet so it can be accessed offline,
☐ Add others’ InReach addresses to your EarthMate app so you can message InReach to InReach,
☐ Add others’ phone numbers to your phone’s address book, both for phone to phone and InReach to phone communications,
☐ Make sure your radio works with SAFA 1,
☐ Check that your InReach share page is publicly accessible,
☐ Check your other live tracking works (XContest Live, Skylines).
☐ Make sure you are registered on

Pilots (on the day)

☐ Let others know your intentions on the Telegram group, e.g. where you’re going, your ETA, whether you can supervise, carpool, retrieve, etc.
☐ When you reach the site, check in on the Telegram poll,
Turn on your tracking devices before you launch (add it to your pre-flight checklist),
☐ Do a radio check,
☐ At the end of the day, when you’re safely on your way home, retract your vote (tap the poll and choose ‘Retract Vote’) and change it to both ‘Checked in’ and ‘Checked out’,
☐ If you think you may be the last to leave, check whether anyone has not checked out.

Retrieve Drivers (before the day)

☐ Make sure you are in the ACTHPA Telegram group,
☐ Download the XC Contacts spreadsheet so it can be accessed offline,
☐ Add pilots’ phone numbers to your phone’s address book,
☐ Make sure your radio works with SAFA 1 (if possible),
☐ Check your phone provider’s coverage maps for the area.

Retrieve Drivers (on the day)

☐ Check that you can track pilots, preferably before they leave the ground,
☐ Do a radio check,
☐ At the end of the day, check whether anyone has not checked out.

Planning a Day of XC Flying

Use the Telegram group to come up with a plan. Things to consider:

  • Where to fly,
  • Can someone supervise PG2s / HG Novices?
  • Where and when to meet,
  • When to make a decision to commit,
  • Who is willing to retrieve.

Note that our group decisions tend to be tentative, and are often not explicitly stated, because all pilots are free to do their own thing, there is typically not a single leader, and we are subject to the constantly changing weather forecast, actual weather, and weather observations. If in doubt, err on the side of overcommunication.

Coordinating on the Ground

Use Telegram to coordinate on the ground. If there is only one site being flown then use the ACTHPA group, otherwise it’s best to create a group for the day for each site. Post an invite link on the ACTHPA group so that those interested can join.

If nobody is currently flying then coordination using radios is also acceptable, but once people are in the air they don’t want to be distracted by this. Consider making a phone call instead (see the XC Contacts spreadsheet).

Site Check-In

We can use Telegram’s poll feature as a site check-in tool, so we know if someone has gone missing (and so the curious can see how many went flying). Using this is optional, but recommended.

If you arrive at a site and someone has created a poll, you can:

  1. Submit a ‘Checked in’ vote to indicate that you’ve arrived.
  2. At the end of the day, when you’re safely on your way home, retract your vote (tap the poll and choose ‘Retract Vote’) and change it to both ‘Checked in’ and ‘Checked out’.
  3. If you think you may be the last to leave, check whether anyone has not checked out. If so, follow the steps in the Pilot Missing section below.

Anyone can create a check-in poll for a site for the day, and someone should. Create it on the main ACTHPA Telegram group, even if you’re using a different group for other coordination. To create a check-in poll:

  1. Create a poll (tap on the paperclip icon, then ‘Poll’),
  2. Make the poll question “<sitename> check-in <date>”, e.g. “Lanyon check-in Sunday 26 June”,
  3. Disable anonymous voting (since having people’s name there is the whole point),
  4. Enable multiple answers (since we want people to check out),
  5. Tap ‘Create’.
  6. After you create the poll, pin it so that it’s easy to find.

Coordinating in the Air

Use your UHF radio on SAFA 1 (formerly HGFA 1). You may wish to make a call when:

  • You spot a hazard,
  • You decide to leave the hill on XC,
  • You have started an XC and are getting low (your transmission will reach further when in the air than on the ground),
  • You have landed safely,
  • You hear another pilot announce that they have landed safely – repeat their message because your transmission will reach further than theirs did.

You may wish to tell people:

  • Who you are,
  • Your location, altitude (state whether ft or m as both are commonly used), heading,
  • Your intentions.


There are various tracking protocols and resources available, each with pros and cons.

To be Tracked

Err on the side of more location sharing options being better, but satellite tracking (either a Garmin InReach or Spot device) is the only type that will work outside of mobile reception. Turn on your tracking before you launch, and turn it off when you are safe on the ground (or after being retrieved).

For your Garmin InReach account (at, so that people can find and track you, turn MapShare on and then in MapShare Settings:

  1. Ensure you’re using your real name or at least a recognisable nickname,
  2. Enable ‘Allow map viewers to send you messages.’,
  3. Copy your MapShare URL to the XC Contacts spreadsheet.

A good non-satellite option is Skylines. Here is a simple guide for setting it up. It is also supported by XC_Guide (which you can connect to XCTrack), or anything that supports the Skylines or LiveTrack24 protocols (see

A fallback live tracking option is Telegram Live Location sharing. In Telegram, tap the paperclip, choose Location, then choose ‘Share My Live Location for…’, then choose ‘for 8 hours’. Don’t choose ‘Send My Current Location’, it won’t track you! Note that live location sharing will drain your phone’s battery faster, mostly because it turns the GPS on, or it’s not entirely reliable because of most phones’ energy saving settings.

If you plan to fly XC you should get yourself registered for High Cloud by emailing your InReach, Spot or Skylines sharing details to

To Track Everyone

High Cloud shows InReach, Spot and Skylines information for multiple pilots on one page. This doesn’t show altitude and is sometimes slow to update.

XContest LIVETRACK. Shows all users of XCTrack with live tracking enabled, in real time, as long as they have mobile reception.

Skylines: Use Skylines live tracking or Squiggly Cloud.

Telegram Live Sharing: Everyone who is sharing their live location with the Telegram group should be visible on its location sharing map. Unfortunately Telegram has proven not reliable due to battery optimisation settings both on iPhone and Android, and it doesn’t provide altitude nor a record of the track.

To Track an Individual

Look up the pilot’s tracking details in the XC Contacts spreadsheet.

InReach: Each device has its own map share page at It may update at 2 minute or 10 minute intervals, depending on their current subscription. It does show altitude, which is very handy!

Spot: Similarly, each Spot device has a share page somewhere under, but you need to know the pilot’s page.

Skylines: Use Skylines live tracking or Squiggly Cloud.


If you have not gone XC, or have already been retrieved, consider whether some pilots may still require a retrieve.

To Offer a Retrieve

If you are feeling generous enough to do this then feel free to make a radio call on SAFA 1 to the pilot(s) in question. If they know someone is coming to get them then they may change their plans, either because they want to land somewhere convenient for you, or because you have given them the confidence needed to fly further!

If you can’t radio, try Telegram, SMS or a phone call, but in this case you may not hear from them until they land, possibly many hours later! An InReach share page can also sometimes be used to send a message to the device.

Once you’re in contact, ask them to share their live location if possible (e.g. through Telegram), or arrange a pick-up location.

To Be Retrieved

If you have landed and have no organised retrieve:

  1. Ask on the Telegram group,
  2. Consult the XC Contacts spreadsheet to find someone who answered ‘Yes’ to ‘Call for retrieve?’, starting with someone in a nearby suburb if possible.

Once you are in contact with someone who is willing to retrieve you, share your live location with them and/or arrange a place to meet them. Do not accept a lift with someone else without letting them know.


Accident with Serious Injuries

In an emergency, such as a flying accident in which a pilot sustains serious injuries, consider the following, as required:

  • Make the pilot safe by disconnecting them from their wing, cutting risers (preferably) or lines if necessary,
  • Perform first aid, have someone call 000,
  • Announce the accident so others can assist if needed,
  • If you have seen a potential accident from the air, announce it before descending as you may lose radio or phone connectivity. After descending, pilots in the air may be able to relay messages for you,
  • Ask other pilots for first aid supplies, as most will have a kit. Some sites also have a kit,
  • If an air ambulance (helicopter) is required:
    • Close the site and ground all pilots by putting out a radio call,
    • Pilots in the air should acknowledge and pass the message on by making a running motion with their legs out of the harness, before landing as soon as they can,
    • Two wings arranged in an X on the ground may be used as a signal to land, but secure them before the helicopter arrives,
    • Pack away all gear, especially wings, before the helicopter arrives.
  • Announce the site closure and reason on Telegram, but respect the casualty’s privacy by avoiding use of their name or any specific medical information.

After the emergency is over:

  • Ensure an incident report is filed with SAFA. Log into the members area of and choose ‘AIRS Submit an Accident, Incident or Complain’. Remember this is about learning to improve our overall safety, not about laying blame.
  • Respect the casualty’s privacy by not disclosing their name or details of their injuries unless you have obtained their permission to do so.
  • A club debriefing may take place at the next club meeting.

Pilot Missing (potential emergency)

If a pilot may be missing, consider trying the following escalation list until you can ensure they are safe:

  1. Contact them on the Telegram group,
  2. Contact them by phone or InReach (see the XC Contacts spreadsheet),
  3. Ask a club SSO (See the list at to get in contact with their emergency contact (who may know where they are),
  4. Call 000 if you have concerns for their safety.

Garmin InReach Communications

The InReach line of products is the most reliable form of communication we have, because it allows two-way communication anywhere on earth. But it can be confusing to use, so here are some tips:

Phone to Phone

If you both have reception then this may be easier!

Phone to InReach (text message)

This will work if you have reception but they don’t.

If someone sends you an SMS from an InReach then you can reply to it, but you can’t initiate this conversation! Try their MapShare page, as this should have an option to message them, if they have this feature turned on.

InReach to Phone (text message)

This will work if you don’t have reception but they do.

The InReach can be used to send SMS messages (or emails), but it’s easier to use the Earthmate app on your phone (the Earthmate app links to the InReach device using bluetooth). From there you can use your phone’s address book to find their number.

InReach to InReach

This is the only option that will work if neither of you have phone reception.

You will need to know their InReach address, which looks like an email address, <something>, but it isn’t one. The <something> is typically from the email address you signed up with, if it is available. E.g. will become, unless someone already has this, in which case Garmin will tack on a few random characters. To be sure, look in the XC Contacts spreadsheet. Use the Earthmate app to send to this address using your InReach, or use the device directly if you prefer or have to.