Spidertracks Customer Spotlight: Malcolm Savill on His Flight to Norfolk Island

Jan 10, 2019

Pilot Malcolm Savill owns New Zealand-based Classic Aviation Designs Limited, a company he founded in 2012 with the goal of making aircraft building a more affordable endeavour. In addition to working to level the playing field in a historically expensive industry, Malcolm also flies regularly on his own and recently undertook an overnight trip to Norfolk Island with a friend.

Using Spidertracks, Malcolm and his co-pilot Mike were able to keep their families apprised of their whereabouts and to communicate with them even when the aircraft was tracking across the sea. Here’s what he had to say about our system.

Tell us about the journey you undertook with Spidertracks.

The original plan was to fly to Australia and meet up with some friends in Gatton Airpark. From Gatton, we’d head up the Sunshine Coast to one of Australia’s oldest outback farm stations for a two-day tour around the station. Then we’d return to NZ, with the trip taking 10 to 14 days.

However, Mike injured himself the day before we were due to leave in July, so we had to postpone. We rescheduled the trip for October, but the weather wasn’t suitable either for us to get to Australia or to get home without incurring large time delays that would’ve grounded us overseas.

At this stage, we decided to change the schedule and just fly to Norfolk Island and back the next day as a test. You could say it was a very expensive bacon-and-egg breakfast run.

How did you become aware of us, and what was involved in your decision to use our system over others?

I first learnt about Spidertracks while in Oshkosh in 2011, when I was helping NZTE with their stand to promote NZ companies. Spidertracks was one of the companies on show.

What Spidertracks features and functionalities were the most important on your journey, and why?

All joking aside, flying a single-engine aircraft over the Tasman Sea is like playing Russian roulette — but the more preparation you take before the flight, the more chambers you have before finding that one loaded with a bullet that’s going to force you to take a swim.

Spidertracks was my insurance that if I had to ditch, the two flight followers I had watching our flight would have accurate and reliable information to pass on to search and rescue.

What would you say are the biggest strengths of the Spidertracks system?

Spidertracks works flawlessly; at no time did we lose contact with the satellites. A huge strength is the system’s ease of use, as it’s plug-and-play in the aircraft once you’ve set up your account and the contacts you want to send information to.

It was also invaluable being able to share our flight with my wife Christine, Mike’s wife Rosa, and our friends. They were all able to check our progress at any time throughout the flight and to see that we were happily working our way across the high seas. This was a big comfort to Christine and Rosa, as strangely enough they both wanted us to return safely. On our arrival, a friend emailed us to say, ‘Congratulations, guys. I love the live updates. It’s like going along with you but not as stressful!’

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