Colorado Highland Helicopters has partnered with RECCO to improve search & rescue (SAR) capability in southwest Colorado and the surrounding region. The RECCO helicopter-based sensor can search for lost climbers, skiers, hikers, hunters and others who have clothing and equipment containing a RECCO reflector chip. RECCO, an innovative SAR technology originally developed to aid in avalanche rescues is now able to locate missing or distressed people during all 4 seasons with the deployment of large, helicopter-based detectors.

Using radio waves, the RECCO detector hangs below the helicopter and sends out signals that bounce off the RECCO reflector chip in a lost person’s clothing or gear. These reflected signals are picked up by the detector and the system alerts the sensor operator, who accompanies the pilot in the aircraft. Because of the size of the sensor array, as well as the height and speed of the helicopter, the RECCO detector system is a highly efficient search technology. The helicopter-based RECCO system can search a square kilometer every 6 minutes.

Learn More about CHH and RECCO’s partnership here.


RECCO rescue technology was developed by Magnus Granhed, in response to his personal experience with a fatal avalanche accident in  Åre , Sweden, in 1973. [4]  Starting in the winter of 1978–1979, Granhed collaborated with Bengt Enander’s team at the Department of Electromagnetic Theory, Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm [5][6]  to develop an avalanche rescue system, using the principle of harmonic radar. [5]

Granhed formed RECCO AB in 1983 and created the first functional prototype. [5]  In 1987, a woman was located with the RECCO rescue technology from a helicopter in  Lenzerheide , Switzerland, in the first live rescue found using the technology. [5]

In 2015, RECCO introduced the RECCO SAR Helicopter detector that expands the technology to finding a missing person in other outdoor environments. RECCO uses harmonic radar to detect a 4 gram reflector “chip” that is integrated into the clothing or equipment made by over 150 premium outdoor brands.

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