Frequently Asked Questions

We have the ashes of a deceased relative from many years ago.  Is there any time limit?

No, none at all.  In fact, many of the families we serve have taken years to decide on a final disposition for their loved one’s cremated remains.

Can we combine a traditional burial service and Ascension Scattering?

Yes, many families choose a form of permanent memorialization and  arrange to have a portion of the cremated remains released via Ascension Scattering.  Since the cremated remains in the upper atmosphere go everywhere,  the two events join to provide a powerful message of dignified appreciation and respect for your loved one.  The combination of both services allows you to arrange a meaningful memorial service locally, and remember your loved one globally.

How is Aerial Tribute different from scattering by conventional aircraft?

Unlike conventional aircraft powered by noisy engines, the Stemme S10-VT sailplane performs Aerial Tribute flights in dignified silence, floating on nature’s air currents.  The graceful appearance of the sailplane’s long white wings is distinct from a power plane and its slow speed allows it to fly small radius circles which permit a concentrated release of cremated remains into rising air for Ascension Scattering flights.

Why can’t a normal glider perform this function?

The Stemme S10-VT is uniquely equipped with an engine for independent takeoff and cruise, and a retractable propeller for soaring without engine power.  This allows the pilot to fly with confidence to remote and inaccessible locations in search of the strongest thermals.  In addition, the plane is the only high performance side-by-side two place sailplane in production today providing the physical room needed to house and operate Aerial Tribute’s proprietary scattering mechanism.

Is it possible for a member of the family to fly in the glider?

No.  The second seat is occupied by the scattering mechanism.  The cockpit is very small and dynamic Aerial Tribute maneuvers are uncomfortable for passengers, so even if it were possible, it would not be enjoyable.

How far in advance can weather conditions be predicted?

Ascension Scattering flights are planned using soaring forecasts produced on the morning of departure.

How often is the weather good enough to allow a Ascension Scattering flight?

The Aerial Tribute pilot seeks out thermal updrafts with the strongest strength and maximum height.  These conditions are relatively rare.  Forecasts typically indicate promising thermal conditions somewhere within 150 miles of Denver about 100 days per year.  Even with favorable forecasts, however, multiple flights may be required to locate the ideal conditions for a release.

Will we be charged more if a Ascension Scattering requires multiple flights to find strong lift?

No.  Aerial Tribute receives a fixed amount regardless of the number of attempted Ascension Scattering flights, and only after a successful release.

How large an area is searched to perform Ascension Scattering flights?

The search for an uncharacteristically strong thermal updraft frequently requires many flights over the span of days to weeks.  Depending on the time of year, it may be necessary to wait for a longer period of time. While an optimal thermal may be found close to the point of departure, this is unlikely.  Generally, the pilot sets out in a promising direction based on soaring forecast weather models and the pilot’s judgment.  Zigging and zagging, the search area may extend 150 miles or more from the point of departure in any direction.  Ascension Scattering flights typically last three to five hours while the pilot circles in dozens of thermals at altitudes up to 18,000 feet.  On board instruments evaluate the strength of each thermal.  The strongest updrafts may therefore be found anywhere within an area comprising more than 5,000 square miles.

If we request a recitation during a Ascension Scattering and ask for a video, will we hear the pilot’s voice?

Yes, the pilot’s voice will be audible as well as ambient cockpit noise.

Can we supply a recording of music or our own voices to be played during a Ascension Scattering?

Yes, simply supply your recording and it will be added to the video soundtrack.  (Ambient wind noise in the cockpit precludes recording the soundtrack using a microphone in the cockpit.)

Can we personalize the Ascension Scattering in any other way?

Yes.  Your family may write thoughts and prayers on biodegradable rice paper slips to be released along with the cremated remains.

How can we be assured the scattering took place?

Aerial Tribute adheres to rigorous operating policies and procedures to minimize the potential for human error. Urn tracking is documented at every step.  When storage is required for any length of time prior to flight, cremated remains are kept in locked storage.  Families are provided an Aerial Tribute Ascension Scattering Certificate with detailed information derived from a GPS-NAV Secure Flight Data Recorder which documents the precise date, time and altitude of the release, as well as the vertical speed and horizontal drift components of the rising column of air.

How is the GPS flight data collected and recorded?

The Aerial Tribute sailplane is equipped with a LXNAV 9070 Secure Flight Data Recorder which records the location, speed, rate of climb and other parameters every two seconds.  This is a sealed system which includes a calibrated barograph and GPS position recording system.  It meets Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) standards governing official aviation record flights and International Gliding Commission (IGC) standards which certify national and international gliding competitions. (Stemme S10-VT aircraft have been used to set numerous official world distance and speed records for unpowered soaring flight.)

What makes it a “secure” GPS/Barograph trace?

Aerial Tribute cannot tamper with the flight data recording device nor the data files it produces.   Data files produced by the system are encrypted and cannot be altered without rendering the flight trace and associated records unusable.

How are the cremated remains released from the glider?

Other aircraft scattering techniques usually involve pouring the cremated remains out a window or door held partially open.  This results in a thin line of nearly invisible material behind the plane.  Aerial Tribute developed a proprietary method of scattering that releases the cremated remains in a single event that produces a far more visible “cloud” which then dissipates as it is drawn upward.

Are all the cremated remains scattered?

Yes, with the exception of minute particles, all the cremated remains are released from the glider.  A single use liner precludes the possibility of unintentionally comingling the cremated remains of more than one person.

Can the cremated remains of more than one person be scattered together by special request?

Yes, this can usually be accommodated.  This option is often the preference when the ashes of spouses are scattered together.

Do cremated remains include larger pieces that fall to the ground?

No.  Aerial Tribute processes the cremains to the consistency of fine sand and ash.  Cremated remains released over a designated spot at lower altitudes slowly descend and disburse in a fine mist, while those released into a rising thermal dissipate and ascend with the air.

Are there environmental concerns related to Ascension Scattering?

No.  Cremated remains are environmentally benign.  The infinitesimally minute particles that ultimately reach the ground and those that stay aloft have no measurable impact on the environment.  Once airborne, the sailplane produces no emissions as it flies since it uses the power of the sun (thermal energy produces updrafts and photovoltaic solar panels power onboard electronics).