It may be a small world but you can still get lost

The Wall Street Journal has a note about Why Technology Didn’t Help Find Steve Fossett that is a reminder about just how big and difficult the Great Basin can be.

Nevada’s terrain generates strong winds that can floor even experienced pilots like Mr. Fossett, whose plane disappeared in September. Even on clear days, search pilots get headaches from trying to keep a steady gaze while being bounced by the wind. On the ground, the remains of old mining equipment are hard to distinguish from downed planes … the newest technology often isn’t helpful. The jagged terrain can block signals from emergency locator transmitters.

Adding to those difficulties is this

The wide distribution of Nevada satellite photographs on the Web led to so many distracting false tips that the Civil Air Patrol had its office phone number changed.

What many didn’t quite realize is that the pictures on the web are often months or even years old. That means that they are not useful looking for lost people.

You don’t need an airplane to get lost, either. It seems that every year someone heads off on some road that looks OK but gets less and less defined the farther you go. Eventually the vehicle gets stuck and nobody knows they are out there. A walk back to civilization is a dangerous trek.

While some of these folks that get lost can dig out a cell phone and call for assistance, there are many places in Nevada where the cell phone has no service.

Don’t get complacent. If you are out on a ride, make sure someone back home knows where you are going and when you expect to get back. Take appropriate supplies with you so that you can survive for a day or two (especially important in winter when sudden storms can cause you to be unexpectedly stranded). Respect the country as it can hold you and hide you in ways you just cannot imagine.

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