Airflare Rescue System in Use at All Local Ski Areas

AirFlare, the app that turns your smartphone into an outdoors rescue locator, is now in use by ski patrol at all five ski areas within a 2-hour drive of Spokane. Mt. Spokane and 49° North recently signed on as AirFlare partners, joining early adopters Lookout Pass, Silver Mountain, and Schweitzer. The result is a robust safety net for skiers and snowboarders exploring eastern Washington and North Idaho ski areas.

“It’s simple now,” AirFlare inventor, founder, and CEO Eliot Gillum says. “No matter which mountain is your favorite, faster than riding a single lift, you can install AirFlare on your phone, protect yourself, and bring comfort to those who care about you. We started AirFlare to leverage the power of the smartphone into saving lives, improve outcomes, and bring peace of mind. Today, smartphones are everywhere and we hope residents and visitors will be as eager to share our vision as these resorts to ensure the entire Inland Northwest has the latest in safety technology.”

Ski patrollers from its Inland Northwest resort partners concur. “We have used AirFlare for three seasons and love the platform,” says John Batchelder, paid patrol director at Lookout Pass. “The real-time training and support have been excellent. We have used AirFlare to pinpoint the location of guests, both in and out of bounds.”

He says Lookout Pass has used AirFlare in two ways specifically to assist guests. “One is to get our staff to the guest’s location and the other is to communicate with a mobile guest how they should proceed to make it back to the area or a pickup point,” Batchelder explains. “The latter method allows us to monitor the progress and keep staff at their posts until direct contact and pickup is appropriate. We are grateful for this wonderful tool.”

Angie Nylund, senior ski patroller/training coordinator at Schweitzer, agrees. “AirFlare has proven to be an indispensable asset for Schweitzer, significantly improving our operations,” Nylund says. “We utilize it not only to locate lost individuals in the backcountry but also to pinpoint injured skiers within our ski area boundary. Thanks to AirFlare, our search times have seen a remarkable reduction, allowing us to offer our guests a superior experience. The ability to find injured skiers on the first run-through has not only saved considerable time but has also optimized the allocation of resources.”

Last winter AirFlare helped save the life of an Idaho skier who got lost in the fog at Soldier Mountain in southern Idaho at the end of
the day and wound up out of bounds. She phoned the resort’s front office to report herself lost and a staff member sent her a text
message with a hyperlink to the AirFlare app, which she was able to download. With the help of AirFlare, ski patrollers pinpointed her on the map and broke trail through at least two feet of fresh, wet snow for nearly two hours to get her out.

“Mishaps can happen to anyone at any time—sometimes it’s weather, lack of preparedness, or just bad luck,” Gillum says. “But AirFlare is serious protection that everyone can have on them all the time. Research shows more than 90 percent of people bring their phone on outdoor activities.”

According to Gillum, the core functionality of AirFlare’s smartphone app, which is designed for strong, spotty, or zero connectivity, makes the phone instantly locatable by rescuers via even a fleeting Internet connection. In addition, the company offers rescuers their proprietary detector hardware that uses WiFi and Bluetooth to find a phone from up to 1k away. Friends and family can also use the app to check in via the same Internet-based technology as rescuers.

For rescuers, Gillum says AirFlare is a powerful toolset that makes them more efficient and effective at locating and assisting people in need of help. A web- or app-based console allows rescuers to initiate searches for AirFlare users or send an SMS message to non-AirFlare users allowing manual location transmission.

AirFlare co-founder Denis Lee said that upon hearing about AirFlare, many people mistakenly compare it to traditional special-purpose locator devices. “We prefer to think of AirFlare as a base level of protection that everyone can have, complementing and strongly encouraging situationally appropriate tools,” he says. “From avalanche beacons to satellite emergency notification devices, all are unique in their utility, training, and costs. Just as a craftsperson wouldn’t leave a screwdriver at home because they’re carrying a hammer, we believe everyone should always have all the right tools for the job. AirFlare is the protection everyone can have all the time.”

The applications go far beyond ski areas, according to Lee. “Virtually anyone who adventures in the outdoors can benefit from using AirFlare,” Lee says. “You can even use it to find your friends at music festivals and theme parks. In all those environments, cellular service is often less than perfect and AirFlare’s unique technology shines.” AirFlare offers many valuable features for free as well as subscription options with more features. Some ski areas offer it free to season passholders. Visit for a list of participating mountains and other details. Users can download AirFlare on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Cover photo courtesy of Vector Flight LLC

Share this Post

Scroll to Top