Lost hiker saved by iPhone flashlight app

“The 21st century hiker’s list of must-haves: A map, extra food and a cell phone,” Jonathan Anker reports for HLN.

“And it’s that last item that just might have saved the life of a Maryland man on New Year’s Eve,” Anker reports. “Not only did he use his phone to call 911, he also used an iPhone app that turned the screen into a virtual flashlight so rescuers could find him in near total darkness.”

Anker reports, “Christopher Tkacik says he and his dog, Boo, got lost while out hiking on northwest Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain. After several hours of trying to find his way out of a maze of trails, he called 911… Told to stay in place and wait for help, Tkacik says he loaded up that flashlight app. When a helicopter was overhead, he held up his phone and used it as a virtual beacon to help rescuers locate his position.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]

25 Comments

      1. Are you completely stupid? Apple use the same frickin’ maps, or are you unfamiliar with the words ‘Google’ and ‘Maps’ that appear on the home screen of an iPhone? The simple fact is that if there’s poor network coverage you’re fucked if all you have is Google Maps; it’s network dependent. I have a bunch of apps on my iPhone that use the Ordnance Survey 1:50 and 1:25k maps, and they are native to the phone. One of those apps also allows the use of American equivalents. The app, Viewranger, was first designed for Symbian phones, then the iPhone, and more recently Android.
        Google Maps and Google Earth are great, don’t get me wrong, but anyone relying on them in an emergency outside of a city is utterly stupid.
        There are many other

        1. “The simple fact is that if there’s poor network coverage you’re fucked if all you have is Google Maps”

          Are you completely stupid? On Android, all you have to do is take a look at the area you will be in before you leave. The maps are cached. Navigation works this way too. No problems on a good android phone like those from Motorola when you happen to go outside of the data coverage area (now Samsung is another story — their gps implementations are crap). I’ve never had a pleasant experience using maps on iOS (not with iPhone 3G or 4 anyway — perhaps things are different with iPhone 4S, but I don’t think this is hardware related — rather it’s Apple’s poor implementation of the software).

          1. I think the lesson isn’t who is using what smartphone (iPhone of course, unless you’re stupid) but having the right wilderness skills AND the sense not to hike without cached GPS and trails information.

      2. As Rorschach said, their Maps are Google’s. But don’t worry, they have bought enough companies to make an ass-kicking map service that has a 3D that completely destroys Google’s own.

        1. I’d love to see it. Unfortunately it’s vaporware at the present. For now, Apple is stuck with Google Maps. That being the case, they should make the best of it. How hard can it be to cache the maps in a reasonable manner? If Google can do it on their platform, I’m certain Apple can too on iOS. Perhaps they are focusing all of their effort on developing their own map service, which is fine and makes reasonable sense. But in the mean time, iOS users are stuck with a very subpar map experience — worse than what is available on competing platforms. Sure, you can buy 3rd party programs to correct this deficiency, but you shouldn’t have to when the functionality is already built into iOS.

    1. Seriously, it would make far more sense to be able to tell rescuers, “I’m at 39º38’58.73″ N 77º28’16.04″ W,” to which a single ranger could walk to rather than to wave a stupid phone in the air requiring a team of people and a very expensive helicopter.

  1. You guys should read the anti-Apple hate mail under the article comments. Boy those guys have it bad. Most of us do not care for Android cause we think Apple is better. They seem to hate Apple and have learned to live with Android.

    Weird.

    1. Fandroids deride “Apple fanboys” as deluded people who don’t make rational purchasing decisions. But it’s such an obvious case of projection. They are hypersensitive about their choice of phone and burns them to their core that Android doesn’t get the same respect iOS does.

      ——RM

  2. There are plenty of reasons to plug the iPhone, this is not one of them. This is beyond lame.

    You don’t need a flashlight app on any phone to do this. He used the screen as a virtual flashlight? Crank up the brightness in Settings (no other app can control brightness), open a blank page in Safari. Done. Nothing that warrants a “iPhone helped save someone” story. It would be just as lame if it were “Lost hiker saved by Android flashlight app.”

    1. Listen, the story is not about plugging an iPhone. It just happens that including the bit about using the flashlight on his iPhone moves the story forward. They used the headline to make you say WTF and click it to read. No ones saying if he had a different phone he wouldn’t have been saved. That said, i’ve always thought the same thing about the flashlight app being a useless gimmick when, like you said, you can open up a blank safari page. Ha!

  3. I live in Md, and this hit the news last night.

    His GPS on the phone was showing his location ON A MAP as radically different from where he was, and he knew enough to know that. Up there, there’s a lot of interference with the GPS in the mountains with all the overhead tree coverage and such.

    He had gotten turned around due to that mislocation issue and taken several wrong turns on trails, so he realized once it started getting dark that he had no idea where he was. So he called for help.

  4. An iPhone Flashlight App also helped me a few weeks ago when a powerful earthquake struck and i was in a movie theatre. The alarms went on and the lights went out and luckily i had the flashlight ready to go just in case something like that happened. For a moment i thought the quake was just special effects.

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