A Mix of New Tech and Old School


My lovely wife, Cher, still flight following.  She is very good and her calm voice through the storm is a wonderful thing to me.

Things are always changing, and much of them for the better.  I was just watching Cher flight follow this afternoon and, although some things are the same, with an HF radio, and talking to the pilots, taking takeoff and landing calls, she can actually see exactly where they are and what they are doing all the time on the computer.  It is quite amazing.  Ever since we did a search for a downed aircraft over the Ituri rainforest I have been pushing to get this V2track installed in all of our aircraft.  It took a while and MAF has been working to choose the best system for our organization, but looking at our V2 screen this morning it was a pleasure to see all our planes in East Congo up and flying and  exactly where they should be.  The safety factor has gone up radically for our pilots and if the plane were ever to go down we have basically turned a search and rescue into just a rescue.  That is very cool to me.


This is what the flight follower can see.  The pink planes are East Congo while the green ones are MAF Uganda’s planes.  We can also see South Sudan’s and Kenya’s planes.  If you put the curser over the red dots it tells you about the airport, if you put it on the plane, it says how high it is, how fast it is going, where you are from the closest airport, and what your track is.  That is quite a change from the days I would fly off to Mozambique and be out of radio contact for days because of atmospheric conditions.  

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20 Responses to A Mix of New Tech and Old School

  1. Dave Darval says:

    I assume this is ADS-B (out) tech. Very glad you have it, as it sure is a great asset. In your environment. God provides!!

  2. abbie says:

    As a youngster in the Aviation field and to Missions, I think this combo of old + new tech is really cool. Glad to see you and your wife as a team, that’s really some serious goals right there!

    I love that I’ve found a blog of a couple who has been in the field so long, your stories and knowledge is really valuable. So thank you so much for having this blog and being faithful to it! Glad you are into it. Blessings on you, Jon

  3. Terri James says:

    Hey, Cous — you’re lookin good!! Terri

  4. Kathy Love says:

    So good to hear from you guys . I’m glad all that expertise isnt going to waste 😀 Looking forward to hearing from you even more .. Miss you guys.. Stay safe till I see you again ..

  5. Rob Fynn says:

    Jooohn, always good to hear – yeah, can imagine what a treat that tracking must be after all these years of flying blind – some miracle the likes of you are still around, hey? Be sure, be sure, please to look me up if you coming this way, into our noooooo Zimbabwe!! XXX to Cher

    • Jon says:

      Hey Rob. Great to hear from you as well. Yeah, Cher was wondering as she edited my bad grammar if she was the “old school” I refused to in the title. We are glad to still be here. Cher says hi! Love to come and see you and all our friends in Zim.

  6. Pat says:

    We use spidertracks here in Papua, Indonesia. We had an accident earlier this year and were able to pinpoint the location of the aircraft within a few hours. It’s amazing what technology can do!

    I would love to interview you for my website when you have time, your story sounds amazing!

  7. Joan Dyce says:

    So glad to see this technology in action. We never even had radio communication during our years in Brasil.

    • Jon says:

      Yeah, a lot has changed. Staying up with all the new stuff coming out without throwing out the good old arts is a trick. Thanks for writing.

  8. Fraser Smith says:

    Its great to see good coming out of bad! Fraser

    • Jon says:

      You know that is true. Very happy we could be a part of the lesson that pushed us to upgrade our ops. Great to see you this month. Fly safe my friend.

  9. Paul WHITE says:

    Hey Jon,
    I haven’t commented for some time on your blog, especially as I have not been fortunate enough to get back to DRC recently. However, I was pleased to see you are flirting with communications technology. This is my area of expertise and I was interested to see your flight tracking software. I think this technology should be installed in all aircraft and it is something I have tried to push for, especially following the missing Malaysian flight and I am amazed that it would appear that an aircraft that size can go missing without trace.When I started to ask why there is not a tracking system installed on all aircraft, it seems that the CAA amd MAA insist there is although there is no bold statement forthcoming. It would be such a simple idea to install a beacon, powered by solar power, released from the aircraft on impact, strategically placed so it is released from where the aircraft is most likely to disintegrate and in the case of ditching at sea, for it to be released and come to the surface via buoyancy aid and start sending messages on a set distress frequency ( battery powered and can also run from solar cell – minimal power consumption). Even if it drifts in the ocean, the S&R teams would have some kind of idea where to start searching for survivors or wreckage. From my research, I believe the aircraft usually transmit their position every 10 minutes or so if they have a tracker installed but I would have thought this should be mandated for an aircraft to take to the skies. Great to see you are well equipped Jon and your Cher can keep tabs on you.
    Have a great Xmas, I know you usually do, stay safe and all the best for the New Year.
    Best regards
    Paul White

    • Jon says:

      Hey Paul, We really do have some cool new technology that are becoming an everyday part of our flying that revolutionize situational awareness and enhance safety. You know about Emergency Locator Transmitters, ELT’s? All aircraft are required to have them if flying more than 25 miles from their home base. The have a “g-force” switch that turns on a radio signal on the emergency frequency, 121.5 and transmits until the batteries run out. Nowadays, you also register your unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gets a signal with your coordinates and calls your offices and says you have a plane down to start a search. They make a water activated ELT that floats and all are usually installed in the planes in an area that us most survivable to a crash. (The tail.) Great to hear from you as always. Happy Christmas to you as well. Jon

  10. C. Lawrence Roberts says:

    Wow! Great advance there, Jon and Cher. Good to hear from you.

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