Flight Following With Members Of Arayat Aero Club

Sharise Pistorius
March 21, 2023

Arayat Aero Club is an exclusive not-for-profit organisation based in the Philippines, that offers its members the opportunity to fly solo and rent aircraft for their own pleasure or business. Their membership is by invitation only, to preserve the common values of all who fly with them.

We had the opportunity to speak with pilots Vince Villena and Kevin Batungbacal, about the club, their experiences in the industry, and how they utilise Spidertracks to maintain awareness of the club’s aircraft and keep their members flying safely.

Vince Villena started flying in 2005, and has accumulated over 500 hours of flight time. He started working in the IT industry in 2007 and took a brief break from flying, however after the birth of his son, he reinstated his licence and now enjoys flying with him. 

Before the club started using Spidertracks, they used the messenger sharing location, but soon realised this was not feasible. "It doesn’t work when you are 7,000ft in the air,” states Vince. “Will [the managing director] saw Spidertracks and installed it initially to just try it out, and it was really good." 

He also tells us about how beneficial it is when flying in remote locations of the region. “If you go down to the remote jungle, it’s hard to look for you. But with Spidertracks, you can pinpoint your last location. We always know that somebody is watching us.”

Kevin Batungbacal knew his passion was in aviation when he was five years old. "A really big 747 flew over my head. From then on, I knew I wanted to become a pilot. Oh, and Top Gun, of course!”

Kevin joined the club as a flight instructor, and works with members who are student pilots, and likes the reassurance Spidertracks gives him when they are out flying. 

“Without Spidertracks, it’s hard to trust your judgement that they’re going to do the right thing. Of course, we have certain measures we need to take before we can release them on their flight. When you release students, you’re kind of nervous, although you know that they can do it because you did certain measures to check their ability before you release them for their solo. Having Spidertracks really opens up a new world in aviation.”

Kevin and Vince both shared that their favourite function of Spidertracks is the ability to send messages. Spidertxt allows them to communicate during flight, keeping pilots situationally aware, and also ordering food in advance from the club's cafe. "After a 2 hour flight, you’re pretty hungry and thirsty, right?"

Vince also recalls a time where a pilot was unable to find the airfield, so he utilised Spidertracks' real-time flight tracking capability to help them land safely. In Luzon, the landscape is covered with rice paddies, sugar cane and corn fields.

“My son and I were flying in a 172 where the visibility was low. There was another pilot there that couldn’t find the airfield because it’s just a grass strip. When they radioed in that they couldn’t find the field, we could track them on Spidertracks and divert them towards us. I was actually about to be dispatched to fly another plane and pick them up!”

Vince continues, “It’s really helpful with Spidertracks. At least you know the aircraft is in stable condition. The pilot in command didn’t get startled, he just kept orbiting in one place.”

When asked about how we can make our industry safer, Kevin says flight training. “It’s the most crucial part,” he says, “If we get proper training and higher safety standards, that would make general aviation a lot safer for us. But of course, that would depend on the pilot to make an effort.”

He also speaks about how beneficial Spidertracks can be for the next generation of pilots. “I think Spidertracks would be a really big help for schools. As an instructor, when releasing my students for their cross countries, it gives me peace of mind that they’re doing the right thing. On top of that, you can also message them - you have the means of communicating with your students."

To see how Spidertracks can help keep your team and crew safe, as well as knowing where they are at all times, speak to our friendly team today.

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