SPOT Saves

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Dangling high up a tree with SPOT

Markus Huber

A keen hang and paraglider since 1983, Markus Huber bought his SPOT Gen3 for a trip to Australia in 2016. A Swiss national now living in Silicon Valley, Markus goes paragliding in Switzerland, Greece and France as well as California, generally in areas with poor mobile phone coverage.

In April 2018, Markus was back in Switzerland for a management conference and was lucky to squeeze in a day of paragliding before heading back to San Jose.

He met a friend at Niederwiler Stierenberg to fly towards Biel through the Jura Mountains. His friend took off first and Markus followed 15 minutes later.

The first thermals were easy and Markus took advantage of a good tailwind to get up a good speed. But he was too ambitious when flying along the leeside of a rim. Although there was rough air, Markus thought he was in control until his paraglider collapsed 80% on the left side. The remaining 20% of the wing immediately shot forward, twisting the lines.

At 200 metres above the ground Markus threw out his reserve parachute and seconds later found himself hanging 20 metres up in a tree.

Fortunately he was without injury. But he was full of adrenaline, hoping that the lines would hold in the tree.

Markus was able to call his wife and let her know what had happened. But he couldn’t reach the emergency service numbers on his phone and via the Rega Swiss air rescue service app because he had a US handset.

For the first time ever Markus pressed the SOS button on his SPOT to initiate a rescue.

“Thanks to SPOT, in an instant, IERCC and both of my children were notified and had my precise location so they could organise a rescue,” he said.

Because the rescue required specialist equipment, Markus had to wait for about three hours stuck up the tree before a professional mountain rescue team got him down.

“My kids got a phone call from the IERCC to close the case. The same evening the whole family enjoyed a good dinner with an extra glass of red wine.

“SPOT is an essential piece of kit. It’s a no brainer to invest in a device that allows my loved ones to find me in an emergency. It makes paragliding much safer. For the future I am considering upgrading to SPOT X for two way communications as this would make a great product even better,” Markus concluded.