Denis Lee, AirFlare co-founder field testing
the technology can be configured to search for a phone belonging
to someone who is not an AirFlare subscriber.
Airflare search technology also includes a small detector
device that is carried by searchers or attached to a drone.
This provides a second set of eyes during large-scale searches,
which can hone-in on a lost skier in places where visual
sightings or voice checks can’t reach, saving precious time in
Tested at Crystal Mountain
The company that developed AirFlare, Vector Flight, released
the product last year and in December 2018 went live with its
first market test at Crystal Mountain, located in the Cascade
Range of the Rocky Mountains, about 80 miles southeast of
Peter Dale, the ski patrol director at Crystal Mountain, says
he was pleased with how the AirFlare system was successfully
incorporated into the resort’s plans and procedures for finding
lost or injured skiers.
“It’s one more tool we have at our disposal for search and
rescue use. It’s not going to be… the only thing we’re ever going
to use moving forward, but it’s a pretty useful addition
to our toolbox when we are looking for somebody,” he said.
Dale says while there weren’t any search emergencies
at Crystal Mountain last winter, AirFlare performed well
in a number of mock search and rescue exercises staged
at the resort.
He notes the technology appeared to be more accurate
than some other search methods his team has used in the
past; such as relying on local law enforcement officials to
provide GPS coordinates for a lost subject during a search
and rescue effort.
Dale was also impressed with how AirFlare’s search technology
can utilize a person’s known Wi-Fi networks to find
them if they don’t have the app on their phones or are outside
cellular service range.
“If we know their home or work Wi-Fi network name, or let’s
say the Wi-Fi network name at a Starbucks they frequent, we
can actually enter that information into an AirFlare search
device to go search for them using a Wi-Fi signal,” he said.
Dale says the AirFlare search technology was provided
to his team free of charge, and in return Crystal Mountain
helped promote the app and its benefits for skiers through
the resort’s website and on numerous signs posted around
the ski hill.
“It’s a mutually beneficial relationship,” he said.
Lee notes that the ski patrol team at Crystal Mountain was
encouraged to provide feedback about AirFlare and one of
their suggestions is already in the works – a new desktop version
of the app for the benefit of search and rescue dispatchers
who rely more on computers than smart phones to do
According to Lee, the AirFlare team is also working on a
number of other enhancements. These include the addition of
peer-to-peer location sharing between family members and
friends who are AirFlare subscribers, as well as an expanded
that provides ski patrol
teams with important
information such as a
lost subject’s emergency
contacts and known
“Our flagship feature is the ability to find a phone
even when it’s outside of a cellular service area.
That’s what really sets us apart from other on-grid
or in-cell service tracking devices.”
– Denis Lee
10 September 2019 | snowopsmag.com