After a twenty-year hiatus, Alaskan pilot Tom Vitt is back in the air — and this time, he's safer than ever.
A lifelong Alaskan resident, Tom is the latest recipient of the Dale Carlson Memorial Foundation (DCMF) scholarship, which provides a Spidertracks aircraft tracking unit and a year's worth of tracking at no cost. The scholarship is directed at new Alaskan-based pilots who may not otherwise have the funds to outfit their aircraft with important but not-yet-required safety equipment.
Thanks to his father who was also a pilot, Tom grew up around aviation. At 13, he learned to fly with the Civil Air Patrol before getting his license at 18 and logging around 400 flight hours before taking a 20-year break to raise his daughter.
Tom says that in Alaska, an aircraft is as much a transport tool as a hobby — and as he's a father now, he wants to be as safe as possible this time around.
"The remoteness of places in Alaska means flying can greatly reduce travel time and even let people reach and see places they might otherwise not. But it also means there's a lot more time spent in vast, empty areas where it might be difficult to find a missing aircraft."
"Safety is paramount, but the cost of getting into flying again has meant I've previously only carried the required safety equipment."
"I've tried low-cost handheld tracking devices to supplement required devices, but like other pilots, I found they're not designed for aviation — and in remote areas like Alaska, performance can be unreliable."
Tom says the capability increase and simplicity of the aviation-specific Spidertracks system will mean peace of mind for him and his family.
"Knowing I have a simple and reliable device onboard to let loved ones know where I am anytime is a wonderful thing. The ability to see how a flight is progressing or to promptly get help directed to a specific location in the event of an emergency are huge benefits."
"The more powerful features the Spidertracks system brings to the table make it the best option for flight tracking in Alaska," Tom says.
Harry Kieling, Chairman of the Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation (AASF), says he is proud to have helped make another pilot safer in Alaska.
"Tom is a fantastic recipient of the scholarship, and he's able to get more experience under his belt now that he has the best equipment onboard to make his operations safer."
“Flying can be an expensive passion. Many times, new pilots are forced to sacrifice what we feel are critical safety devices. The purpose of the Dale Carlson Memorial Foundation is to put Spiders in as many aircraft as possible and to help turn that around."
About the Dale Carlson Memorial Foundation:
The Dale Carlson Memorial Foundation is a partnership between the Carlson family, Spidertracks, Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation, Northern Lights Avionics, and the Alaska Airmen’s Association and was created for the purpose of helping to keep Alaskan pilots safe. The Foundation was established in memory of Dale Carlson, a father, husband, son, brother, friend and outstanding pilot.