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RECCO – Be searchable

RECCO – Be searchable, the saying that actually explains everything. The system is designed to speed up the search for missing persons considerably. You might think that we paragliders are easy to find anyway thanks to our large, colorful paraglider, but it is quite conceivable that the paraglider could fall through the trees in the event of an accident, making it difficult to find the victim.


The RECCO system was developed at the beginning of the 1980s for avalanche rescue and searching for missing persons, but for us paragliders it is probably the search for missing persons that is more interesting. It wouldn’t be the first time that a pilot was only found days after a crash in some side valley in the Alps. With a RECCO system, the chance of being found more quickly is significantly increased.

In the following I will only briefly go into the background, if you want to know more details, please refer to the very informative RECCO website.


The RECCO detector emits a radar signal (900 MHz). The reflector responds to the signal with a double frequency. The closer the detector approaches the reflector, the stronger the response signal. This makes it possible to localize the reflector and thus the victim.


The reflector is a relatively simple transponder consisting of an antenna and a diode. The technology is welded and requires neither a power supply nor maintenance, making it very robust and reliable.

Helicopter detector

There is a handheld detector, but this is intended for searching for avalanche victims and is therefore of less interest to us pilots. Far more interesting is the helicopter detector, which can cover a search corridor of approx. 100 meters at an altitude of 100 meters. This makes it possible to cover 1 km² within 6 minutes.


Helicopters equipped with detectors can be found all over the Alps. There are still two sites in the Pyrenees. A map with helicopter locations can be found on the RECCO website.

Products with reflectors

There is a very large selection of products, such as backpacks, helmets, jackets, pants and shoes, in which a RECCO reflector is already integrated. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any products (e.g. a flying helmet) on the RECCO website that are specially made for us paragliders.

Products for retrofitting

However, there is a reflector for retrofitting, with a choice of reflectors for helmets, rucksacks and belts. As it is important that the reflector is mounted in the most exposed position possible so that it is recognized as well as possible by the detector, the best mounting location seems to be the helmet. I have therefore glued the reflector to the back of the helmet, it would probably be better at the top of the helmet, but that would give the lines a point of attack.


For relatively little money, you can significantly increase your findability and therefore your chance of survival after a crash. A small investment that is worthwhile in my opinion. But you shouldn’t rely on the reflector alone, I also carry a GSM tracker from Flymaster.

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