Our goal is that no plane ever goes missing. But if the worst happens, here are some things that will make it easier for emergency crews to find the plane faster:
File a flight plan – a flight plan will tell searchers where you were heading and your intended route. This information can be critical during a search.
Flight Plan (pdf 28 kb)
FAA Flight Planning Information
Use flight following – talking to air traffic control (ATC) during your flight can pay dividends if you go missing. ATC would have radar information and details about when they last spoke to you, where you were heading, and if you had reported any in-flight troubles.
Make sure you have an operational emergency locator transmitter – the key word here is “operational.” Check it out every so often to make sure it’s working. ELTs transmit distress signals in emergencies and help search crews find your location. ELTs are required in most U.S. registered civil aircraft.
Consider investing in a new 406 ELT – several years ago, a more advanced model of the ELT (406 mhz) was developed. This version will cost around $550 per unit, but has an 80 percent chance of activating upon impact. And it will tell searchers your tail number and exact location. This could mean the difference between hours and minutes when it comes to searches.
More 406 ELT information - NOAA