Send message to your retrieve team

If you are a XC paragliding pilot, you might land in a different location than anticipated. In this case you have to inform the retrieve team where they can pick you up or just inform them on your status.

The Paragliding Pilot Retrieve App

This app uses what3words for your location information.

The app determines your location and can send a message with a few clicks using SMS, Whatsapp, Messenger, or whatever communication service is available on your android device. You also can just use the 3 words location info in voice communications over radio or phone.

If you want to send a message, you just pick the message from a list, thus avoiding to type it in yourself, which might be quite handy depending on the situation.

The location information is available in 26 languages.

Click button to download the App in the Google Play Store.

How to use the app

Step 1. Switch on your GPS

Step 2. Start the Paragliding Pilot Retrieve app
If you forgot to switch on GPS, a notification will be displayed. After having enabled the GPS, give it 20-45 seconds to perform an accurate location fix. The location will be presented in 3 words (what3words format). While waiting for an accurate fix the corresponding location information is updated on the screen.

Step 3. Select the desired language
In the bottom left corner a two-character language code is displayed. Click on the code to open the language selection screen. Select the language you want to use for the what3words location information. This is particularly useful if you want to communicate the location in speech by radio or phone. After selecting the language, it will be set as default. Your language code will now be displayed in the bottom left corner of the screen. Tap the speaker icon just right of the language code to have the three words spoken in your selected language.

Step 4. Call
If you just want to make your location known, you can call or use your radio to let the retrieve team know where you are. If this is not an option the following steps may be of use.

Step 5. Select message text
Click on the ‘Select message’ button. A screen opens and will display a list of 12 messages of which you can select one. Just click on the required message and you will be returned to the main screen where the button will now display the text ‘Message selected’ and where the message is also displayed. You can always change the text by clicking this button again.

Step 6. Send message without location
If you have selected a text stating e.g. that you are making your own way back or are back at base, there’s no need to add location information. In that case just click the ‘Send message’ button. Your smartphone will now open a screen allowing you to select the messaging service you want to use. Follow the steps indicated by the messaging service. The app will send the selected message, but will allow you to add more text if you like.
[Tip: In preparation of your flight you may consider creating a Whatsapp group with your team members, such as to have a higher quick response probability in case of an emergency.]

Step 7. Send message with location
If you want to also send the location information, the process is the same as under Step 5. but the location information is added in what3words as well as latitude/longitude format.

App properties

Minimal data transfer
The app is designed to be extremely ‘light’ on the data transfer, in order to cope with marginal internet connections often encountered in the field. To get the w3w address only 150 bytes are transferred. Also around 150 bytes are sent in the retrieve message.

What if there’s no internet connection?
In this case the what3words address cannot be determined and most of your messaging services won’t work. Except one: SMS. That’s why the app also provides the lat/lon values along with the what3word address. Your GPS works independent of your internet connection, as does SMS. So that’s the fallback option. You will still get your location and message across.

Mind the GPS performance
Obviously the app is meant to be used in open spaces, our natural flying habitat. Thus reception of the GPS signals is optimal and allows for accuracies of several meters. The app is not meant to be used indoors.

Why what3words?
w3w divides the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique 3 word address. It means anyone can accurately find any location and share it more quickly, easily and with less ambiguity than any other system. Especially if a location has to be communicated by phone, it is far more easy then using the standard lat/lon figures. More info on w3w can be found at