Let try something new...Whatsapp Chat

We are going to try something new for our site communications, Chris Ratay has suggested us to go to using Whatsapp app on our phones for chatting about ETA’s and current weather conditions at our front range flying sites like Boulder and now we are going to try Lookout. Yes, this is what we already do on the RMHPA twitter feed but not everyone likes the complexity of the twitter, I find it pretty easy to use, but yes I would have to agree it gets pretty busy with other stuff.

What I really like about this app is that it’s one platform but you can have multiple groups such as having a group for Boulder and a group for Lookout and so on, putting 140+ members into one group gets very busy and confusing, having separate groups will cut down on confusion. There are also no hashtags to start chatting (less confusing), it’s as easy as sending a text. You can also share your location really easy with two clicks, which puts a pin of your location on a map for easy access from all followers, you can also do the same if you want to post pictures.
**If you don’t want to be bombarded with dings go into your notifications and turn off the sounds.

So lets get started, if you haven’t already done so please down load the app Whatsapp onto your phone and open the app up and create a username preferably your actual name so it shows up correctly on the app when you post. We can’t add you to the whatsapp unless you have the app on your phone and open it up at least once.

Once you have the app installed please send an email to one of the current RMHPA officers rmhpa.org/about-us/ with your full name and phone number so one of them can add you to the Lookout Group and other local site chat groups

it’s probably best to be on multiple groups so you can decide where to fly or how the other sites are doing, but that’s up to you.

If you are flying Lookout you chat only in the Lookout group and if you are flying Boulder you chat in that group, now lets say you fly to Boulder from Lookout and need a ride or vice versa from Boulder to Lookout, well then send a text on both groups or just one group. You make that call. For sure we will have some kinks to work out but there always are when trying something new.

I’m aware that not everyone likes change, but just give a try and see if you like it. So far it’s a hit in Boulder, I know it will work at Lookout and we can do the same for other sites too if need be. If you continue to tweet on RMHPA twitter feed this will not work as well so just try this app only unless you are using twitter for your spot or delorme location

Note: the RMHPA twitter feed will still stay active but will only be used for your Spot or Delorme since Whatsapp doesn’t support those devices. Please make sure to change your hashtag on your Spot or Delorme to #RMHPA, the hashtags #landed and #lo are no longer viable.

thanks for setting this up

Ditto! Great work!

wtf whatsapp,
just because Chris cannot use Twitter???

impeach :slight_smile:

What I’m finding is that the chatting is a bit intense right now because it’s so new for some and there’s a lot of non flying chatting going on, but once everyone figures out how to do a simple text again it will go back to being normal with posts about ETA’s and Current Conditions, also when you join you will not see any of the past posts that people have made about that specific day of flying.

Please remember to put an actual name in your profile, because if people don’t have your name in their contacts it will only come up with a number and a grayed out name to the right of the number and if its says something other then a name then no one will know who is making the post.

Also, I want to remind those that think that this is a forced thing, it is not, just like twitter a couple of us created it to make group texts easier and more universal, folks signed up if they wanted to, if they didn’t care to be in the group messaging then that was their choice not to join, this is the same thing, it’s just on a much easier platform then twitter. If you want to keep in the loop join the whatsapp group for Lookout and for Boulder or just one or the other it takes two seconds or maybe more depending on how long it takes to download whatsapp.

If after some quality use of the whatsapp application you think its not for you and you would rather go back to using hashtags and @ symbols then by all means go back to twitter, I am not going to stop you.

WhatsApp, from my understanding, is internet-based free messaging, right? This means that for it to work, your phone needs to be in range of data service or have a wifi connection, and when you’re not in range then the WhatsApp won’t work. Correct me if I’m wrong. My issue with this, is WhatsApp requires coverage!!! Maybe if we’re flying along the front range then that’s fine and dandy, but not all of us fly the front range exclusively, or stay in the states. Additionally, if you land or crash into an area without service then the functionality of WhatsApp will not work. That’s where a Spot, or InReach, or other, has a better chance to saves lives. Apps don’t. Just realize the limitations of each platform and use them accordingly.

I fully believe that RMHPA’s twitter platform is superior in this manner. If someone doesn’t want to invest $200 some bucks for a GPS device, with an annual fee, e.g. for a Spot, for their safety, then they need to rethink their sport choices, or only stick to areas with guaranteed coverage.

We can’t have half the club using one platform and the other half using another. For safety purposes, and efficiency in finding our buddies (such as a direct link to our location on a map, supplied by the the said Spot service), we need to stick with one platform, and that, at this time, from what I’ve seen out there is where twitter shines. I believe that most will not want to monitor/manage two platforms, and if you do, be aware of the each platform’s limitations.

I think GPS-linked twitter feeds (e.g. Spot) are the safest choice right now, and that should be the default for everyone. If you’ve crashed in said canyon without coverage then you won’t see your Spot twitter feed, but others will. The WhatsApp should be viewed as an add-on.

Jake, sweetheart, baby…
Doesn’t Twitter require the same cellular data access?

Agree one reliable resource would work best. Maybe the club can sponsor a nice little handbook with illustrations and instructions.

Indeed Tim: Twitter requires internet access/data coverage, however, as long as at least one person that is on the Twitter feed has access/coverage then they will get your Spot message. Like I mentioned, "If you’ve crashed in said canyon without coverage then you won’t see your Spot twitter feed, but others will." Hope that helps clarify!

This undermines the usefulness of the Twitter feed’s landing and emergency notifications. If people stop paying attention to Twitter, which they will, they will stop seeing these messages which is horrible. The only disadvantage of Twitter is…ads, and shorter tweets…but it an’t so bad…a thought anyway.

Ed, good point, but since the advent of text messages have you stopped reading your emails? Probably not since they both serve a different purpose, whatsapp group chat serves a different easier purpose then twitter for group messaging but not for gps tracking.

Since we can’t get your gps tracker / spot location on whatsapp you and everyone else should keep a reminder to check twitter to see where folks landed. I think twitter will be very useful for when you are not connected to a cell tower 95% of the time, like being in the mountains. I used to have my tweets notifications turned off because of all the traffic from members tweets, now that it’s limited to just landing out I turned it back on. I still check it as I’m sure others will too, I also constantly check Dave Wheelers xc find website to track peoples flights and see where they land so there’s always that application to finding folks. I think this is better then twitter but not everyone is hooked into that system so I have to check both.

We really need to push more pilots into having a some sort of gps tracking system and not only rely on a cell based system like whatsapp. Yes, it is totally possible that many folks may say that they don’t need a gps tracker like spot because I can send my location via whatsapp. So, we need educated the point that a gps tracker is great for when you are unable to text due to loss of cell service (which will happen), your battery died on your phone, you crashed and can’t get to your phone in your back pocket or harness or worst case you are left unconscious, these points to keep or purchase your first gps tracking device need to be pushed as just another form of safety communication, keeping the link like twitter needs to be kept and will work as long as people like you and I keep using it.

There are so many different forms of communication and yes some may just go away in time due to better and easier ways. So far we have 43 participants with the Lookout whatsapp, just check it out and see what you think…

If I may, I think people are getting a few different needs confused. I think these needs can be boiled down to three main categories.

  1. A convenient way to coordinate getting together to fly.
  2. A way to publicly announce a safe landing, a need for a ride, or a need for help.
  3. A way to see a person’s current or last known position.

#1 is normally done from or near home and almost always while having an Internet connection. The club message board, email, and Twitter have been used for this. Now there is this proposal to replace Twitter with WhatsApp. Any of these options work just fine for this category. This category has no safety component and the Internet is normally always available for this communication.

#2 is largely a safety issue. There are two very different sides to this. The first is the ability to send these messages. The second is the ability to receive these messages. When flying the front range, sending can be done via SPOT, InReach, or cell phone since typically front range flying offers Internet access or at least the ability to send text messages. But when flying in the mountains, it’s not uncommon to have no cell coverage and messages can only be sent via satellite with a SPOT or InReach. Receiving these messages is another story. The receiver needs Internet/cell access to receive the emails and text messages sent by the pilot. So this can be broken down into two parts - fellow pilots and club members in a position to receive those messages and fellow pilots in the mountains that are unable to receive the message sent by their flying companions due to lack of cell signal.

#3 is tightly linked to #2. For a curious person at home wanting to see how their buddies are doing on a given day, they can pull up SPOT or InReach share pages and see how the flights or going. More importantly is the ability to locate and help a pilot in need. If a group are in the mountains with no cell coverage, the use of SPOT and InReach don’t work well since no one can lookup where the distressed pilot is. People in the group need to head off to an area with cell coverage to access the person’s location, then head back to that location.

Given these summaries, I would propose a few things.

  1. Let people use WhatsApp or some similar form of Internet based communication to coordinate flying trips and meeting times, etc.
  2. People should obtain and use satellite based devices when flying to be able to report their position in flight as well as to send the typical “I’ve landed”, “Need a ride”, and “Need Help” message. These device work even when out of cell coverage.
  3. There needs to be a simple way for people to setup their satellite devices to send their messages. This has been Twitter until recently when flying Lookout. This is fine for “I’ve landed OK” and “I need a ride” messages at Lookout. But there needs to be something better for the “I need help” message, especially when flying in the mountains. I typically setup my SPOT with the phone numbers of people I typically fly with. But if they are with me in an area with no cell coverage, they don’t get my “I need help” message. There should be a special email such as "needhelp@rmhpa.org", or something similar, that we all put on the “I need help” message of our SPOT/InReach devices. This email address should then get forwarded to some appropriate subset of the club membership and/or sent to the club Twitter feed. This greatly increases the chances of someone in cell coverage taking action to help a fellow pilot in need.
  4. As I posted recently in the Safety section of the forum, there needs to be a page on the club website with a link to every member’s SPOT/InReach share page so anyone can quickly find a pilot’s location. This way, if a pilot goes missing, it’s easy to find their last known position based on their track.

Great idea Rick,

This is the link you are looking for, you can be added to this service with a contribution to the costs of developing and running this site.
Suggested amount: Ind: $20/year, Comps: $5/pilot.


Here’s a review after using the Whatsapp Chat for the past 4 days.

Overall, I’m much happier with Whatsapp over Twitter. I’ll preface this by saying Whatsapp is not a replacement for a Spot or Delorme, but can be a replacement for Twitter for coordinating plans. The fact is, even after a lot of tutorials and assistance, many people could not figure out how to properly use the hashtag system. It was a band-aid fix for our mass communication, but it was the best option at the time. That time has passed. Just like Twitter killed plan coordination on the forum 3 years ago, Whatsapp has killed coordinating flying plans on Twitter.

For coordinating flying plans (everything that is non-emergency), Whatsapp is undeniably a better system. I’ve been using it the past four days and it’s just simply better than Twitter. Whatsapp is a better platform for communicating non-emergency locations, ETA’s, real-time conditions, rides, and occasional banter. There is no delay for your message to be re-tweeted, and no character limit. Notifications are more easily configurable and threads can be easily muted for when you don’t want to be disturbed. There’s also a handy “pin-drop” feature for sending out your location to the group.

The disadvantage of Whatsapp is that at first the conversation was a bit off topic and a little too busy. Benzie solved this by creating a new thread specifically for general chat/banter. There will probably be growing pains as people figure it out. I have the banter conversation muted so that I only receive updates related to flying plans. I also found I had to turn off the vibrate notification for Whatsapp. I was worried for the first few hours that I would have to opt out due to the prolific number of posts, but the conversation over the past few days has stayed on topic to flying.

In regards to safety:
Yes, Whatsapp only works when you have cellular service. It does not replace a Spot or Delorme. I, for one, still receive the Twitter notifications. I would also encourage everyone to also have their Spot or Delorme post to their Facebook page, which is much more heavily trafficked than Twitter is anyway. If your 10 emergency contacts are also set up correctly for text and email alerts, I do not see why these two systems cannot coexist without any loss of safety or visibility of emergency notifications. I will continue to receive Twitter notifications, and I believe that as Twitter posts become less frequent I will be more inclined to pay attention to the ones that do come through (knowing that they are coming from a Spot/Delorme device). Don’t forget that in a true emergency, when you hit the bad button it automatically calls first responders for you regardless of whether it’s posted to Twitter.

To those not on board with the Whatsapp system, I’d encourage you to give it a try for a week or two.

I’ve been using WhatsApp for the past year and its been a Great messaging app. Unfortunately, its recently been bought out by Facebook and there are no options to prevent Facebook from spying on you and stealing your data, so I’m giving up on it for now. Damn shame. Just do a quick web search “WhatsApp Facebook” and you’ll find countless articles on it for further reading and latest updates…

I’m wondering if folks think WhatsApp is taking away from the usefulness or value of this forum. Based on the WhatsApp discussion over the last couple weeks, it looks some people had really good XC flights on the front range and in eastern CO… and someone is looking for a used wing. Also, plans for Otto’s have been made and scrapped (twice), and there was a great reserve parachute repack last Friday and maybe another one to come this Friday.

I think it’s unfortunate that none of that information is here. As I new pilot, I would enjoy seeing pictures/video and learning about who flew where and how they did it. For me, one centralized source for all the club happenings are valuable… without having to scroll through 20 or 40 messages I missed if I haven’t read the WhatsApp thread in a couple days. I understand the convenience of being able to message from the phone but I think it takes away from the knowledge base and calendar that gets compiled here. What do you think?

I agree. I think the popularity of the forum is nothing compared to what it used to be. I think good or bad, whatsapp is part of that. This is the first time I’ve checked the forum in many months. I have not been using the forum because I no longer get email notifications that someone has replied to a topic. If I could get those notifications I would participate. I will try to check back more often but I’ll never be a reliable contributor without notifications.

Thank you for bringing this up. Yes, this phenomena has been a topic of discussion in that there has been a loss of valuable information posting on the forum. Where the function of the Forum truly shines, is as a repository of information that can serve as a long-term source, or “place-holder,” of information. Just scroll through the years of conversations and topics, and one will quickly see how much great information our members have put out there. All members are invited to use the Forum in most any capacity they prefer, but for topics and information that are valuable, and deserve a place-holder, so to say, then please use the Forum.

I think WA is great for posting ETAs, conditions reports, coordinating retrieve (where service is available- if not, then use Spot and link it to Twitter), and other communications that are short-term related. For things of “more importance” or as an information place-holder, then the Forum is superior for this. So, a plead to all: keep using the Forum, and make it a habit check it periodically.

Has anybody set up a Mountain Flying WA group? Seems like the time for trips is almost upon us, and car-pooling road trips are almost upon us.


I believe people are using the general RMHPA site for mountain activity (plans to head to the Western slope etc.) but agree that having at least one mountain flying WA thread would be good. It might get more pilots from other locations using it, which could help with the inside scoop on weather and road conditions. One might be a good start but if we have two separate threads for Loookout and Boulder then perhaps three for the mountains might make sense: Southern (Villa, Moon Creek, Kenosha…), Central (Williams, Wolcott…), Western (Dinosaur, Crawfords…).

I have been on the WA for a few months now and I have some good and bad to say about it…

First off, like how interactive it is and immediate. I like how people can share their thoughts and desire to fly. I like how people discuss weather, mostly. I like how the app can bring us all together from a long distance and not have to go looking for information. I see that this is a new generation of pilots now and this app does address what people need.


I am concerned about some things. As with other social media, the group think is overwhelming. Seems as if some people are relying on others on the app to tell them when it is good and flyable. This is a big problem. While it is beneficial to have confirmation on YOUR WX study, it is not beneficial to be spoon fed the info… I am so sick of seeing the message “is it going to be good to fly today?” This is the same as showing up 5 min. before an important exam (one that your life depends on) and asking others for all the answers.

We as glider pilots NEED to know this information and share our studies with each other for success. The front range is complicated, and ever changing. There is a reason that NOAA and NCAR and NWS have so much invested in our region. Their information is invaluable and is used around the world… USE IT!

I have seen some pilots initiate a false report of good conditions that encourage others to follow in ignorance. And some pilots shut down the efforts of other informed pilots, creating more doubt and confusion as to what we should be looking for. The bottom line is, bring your own study to the table and share it.

Now, as I continue my rant… The biggest downer that I see with the Whats app. For those who require attention, this is your bag. I’m sure that you have heard that being humble is one of the traits that most great pilots have in common. This is not a skill that can be taught. WA in my opinion is a facilitator for people showing their narcissistic tendencies, the opposite of humble. This tends to manifest into unnecessary messages to gain attention… attention that other social media fails to provide.