Spidertracks Customer Spotlight: Cor Roest, Private Pilot in Kenya
We talk a lot about how Spidertracks’ real-time tracking and communication features can improve your operational efficiency and help your aviation business reach its full potential — but in this blog, we want to highlight how the system’s capabilities can enhance your safety during flights by allowing you to leverage a community of fellow pilots.
Private pilot Cor Roest has been a fixture in the African skies for almost 20 years. After the chairman of their aero club went missing over remote terrain, Cor and several of his colleagues decided they needed to adopt a system that would give them visibility over each others’ whereabouts. Spidertracks ticked all their boxes, and it’s become an indispensable tool for the group that provides them with important location data and invaluable peace of mind. Here are Cor’s thoughts on the importance of Spidertracks:
Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do? How long have you been flying?
I got my private pilot’s licence (PPL) in Uganda in 2000 and have been flying for nearly 19 years now, initially in a Cessna 172 and then in a 182 since moving to Kenya in 2003. Much of the terrain in Kenya is at or above 5,000 feet, so having the extra power of a 182 is very welcome. Down at the coast it behaves like a rocket! Work-wise, I’ve been involved in agribusiness, running a tea company in Western Uganda and an East Africa-wide agricultural packaging business. Lately, I’ve been promoting aquaculture across East Africa for an NGO. I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of my flying for ‘work,’ so I’ve flown extensively across East Africa.
How did you become aware of Spidertracks, and when did you begin using us? What was involved in your decision to become a Spidertracks customer?
I began using Spidertracks soon after we lost our aero club chairman in the Aberdare Mountains and were unable to locate the wreck for 48 hours. The ELT (emergency locator transmitter) signal gave us far too big an area to search over some very hostile terrain.
Having been involved with the Aero Club for over 15 years, I can tell you there are few things more distressing than being unable to locate a fellow pilot when he or she goes missing.
Someone mentioned Spidertracks from New Zealand, and on investigation it offered the perfect option for us private pilots. A bunch of us bought Spiders for our aircraft and allowed each other access in case something went wrong. Since then, quite a few others have had Spiders fitted, and now we also monitor them from the Aero Club at Wilson Airport in Nairobi.
What Spidertracks features and functionalities are the most important for you, and why?
The live and accurate record of an aircraft's track is the most important feature for me. Letting the Spider just do its thing in the background is hugely beneficial for all of us.
What would you say are the biggest strengths of the Spidertracks system?
Its reliability and the peace of mind it affords us are undoubtedly the biggest strengths!
What key issues for you has Spidertracks helped with?
The one case none of us can forget is when a crop-sprayer pilot friend went missing ferrying his aircraft to Cameroon in April 2016. The last Spidertracks ping we had for him was in the Congo forest approximately an hour west of Kisangani. Normally, you wouldn't have had a hope in hell of finding someone in that part of the world — but armed with the coordinates, the aerial search team were able to locate the wreck and get a team onto the ground in the right place fairly quickly.
Have we helped you fly safer and smarter? If so, how?
I think the big change is that now, we really can look out for each other if there’s a problem. If something serious were to happen, I certainly have a lot more faith in my mates finding me as opposed to the authorities!
Anything else you’d like us to know? We’d love to hear it!
What I also loved about Spidertracks was being able to allow my late father to track my flying here in East Africa from his computer in the Netherlands! He was never quite able to complete his PPL back in the 1970s, and it was great to give him the pleasure of following my flying vicariously from 4,000 miles away!
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