Activities Sports & Athletics Ground-To-Air Emergency Code for Rescue Signaling Share PINTEREST Email Print Hans Neleman / The Image Bank / Getty Images Sports & Athletics Other Activities Cigars Collecting Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Golf Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Learn More By Traci J. Macnamara Updated July 23, 2018 When you’re in distress in the outdoors and you need to call for help, you may choose to use a number of different rescue signal techniques. But if you believe that an airplane, helicopter, or other airborne rescue parties may be searching for you, then you can use the five-symbol ground-to-air emergency code to signal a specific message in advance of the aircraft’s landing. Most importantly, the ground-to-air emergency code can help let rescuers know whether or not anyone in your party is injured, and it can guide them more effectively towards your location. The five ground-to-air emergency code symbols and their meanings are as follows: Require Assistance: V or X A V-shaped signal communicates that you need assistance, in general, but it doesn’t imply that you or someone in your party is injured. Use the letter X to communicate that you or someone in your party needs medical attention. Whereas the V symbol communicates a call for help, the X symbol communicates a more urgent request for assistance. No or Negative: N The N symbol can be used to communicate your negative response to a question that the aircraft or rescue organization has asked. Yes or Affirmative: Y The Y symbol can be used to communicate your affirmative response to a question that the aircraft or rescue organization has asked. Proceed in This Direction: Arrow, Pointing Towards the Location Place an arrow-shaped symbol with the head, or point, of the arrow indicating the direction of your location. This symbol is a good one to use when rescuers may need additional information about how to reach your location after they have identified another ground-to-air signal, such as a group of X symbols in an open area indicating a need for medical assistance. Place the arrow in a position that will guide rescuers from the open area towards your location. Tips for Using the Air-To-Ground Emergency Code Signal using the air-to-ground emergency code as you would signal with other methods, such as a smoke rescue fire. Remember these key ideas when arranging signals and communicating with rescue crews: As with other visual signals, signaling in threes communicates and confirms distress. Choose a large, open area as close as possible to your location for the signal location. Choose to place signals on the highest, flattest terrain you can find near your location. Choose a signal that will contrast with the underlying terrain. Choose dark-colored branches, for example, on top of the white snow. Go big! Use several rows of rocks or debris to build each part of a signal letter so that it is thick enough and big enough to be seen clearly from above. Be prepared to use a backup signal, such as a signal mirror, to confirm your location as soon as you see aircraft in the area.