CODE FOR LOST TRAMPERS
A special code of distress signals for mountaineers and tranipers who are in need of assistance was recently drawn, up by the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand after an extensive study had been made by a subcommittee into the particular requirements 6f New Zealand conditions, and into distress signals recognised and used in other parts of the world. There is a separate system of signals to suit modern conditions of search by aeroplane. '. . .': ■'■■-.. • '
Signals to aircraft should be made with clothing, tents, blankets, branches, stories, or anything else of a similar nature; If possible, the signals should be kept clear of shadow, trees, or high rocks, and should contrast to the: greatest extent possible with the colour of the background.
The party that is in need of help should attract the attention of a pilot by smoke or flash signals, and should then make special signals on the ground to indicate the mesasge he wishes to convey. The sign for a party in need of help is an L, and for a party wanting information as to a route the signal. X, indicating crossroads. The signal that a doctor is required is two parallel lines, indicating a stretcher. If no help is required, the T sign is used, indicating "all right.". .: .
A:pilot who has observed and read the ground signals should '■;acknowledge the fact by repeated circling and/or dropping coloured papers. Coloured paper will, also be dropped to indicate to land searchers the location of the lost party. To indicate the direction the lost party should take, the aeroplane should circle over the party and then fly in the general direction the party is to take. The manoeuvre should be repeated several times. If land searchers are to return home, coloured streamers ■ should be flown from the aeroplane.
The value of these signals was indicated particularly in a case. some years ago, when a party of: trampers was missing in the Tararua Ranges. A number of searchers were travelling along a particularly rugged part of the range when a rescue aeroplane, passing overhead, sighted them. Had there been a recognised signal code,' the party could easily- have indicated its message, a "T," to the passing' aeroplane, on a patch of snow nearby. In fact, however, the aeroplane was forced : to, circle very low and' at considerable risk, over the trampers, before a message "All well" could be conveyed. ■
• The Alpine Club's internationally recognised distress sign of six signals per minute, i.e., at the rate of, every ten seconds, and then: a wait of a minute, is now officially recognised 'id New Zealand. . Searching parties, in acknowledging' recognition of the message, make three signals per. minute, i.e., one every 20 seconds, but give no signal in alternate minutes. '
Signals may be made by flashes of torch or mirror, waving of a cloth, and by means of smoke. Instructions are given that a large fire should be lighted and then green leaves or wet wood placed on it. The method of signalling used by the American Indians could then be', applied, A. wet 'blanket is placed on the fire, and the smoke is released at intervals. ■
A yellow.flag is the recognised signal that medical aid is ■ required. Condy's crystals- are especially recommended to be taken on ali expeditions which might involve crossing snow. They are invaluable for making air signals for aeroplanes on the snow and for marking snow trails. In .winter, the stains will remain for days.
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