Pilots use coffee cups to warn campers about Mt. Rainier gunman

SEATTLE -- The Homeland Security helicopter pilots who warned campers about a gunman on the loose at Mount Rainier National Park on Sunday are opening up about their unusual tactics.

A group of campers at Reflection Lake inside the park last weekend were completely unaware of the dangerous situation they were in. They didn't know that Park Ranger Margaret Anderson had been gunned down or that the shooter was unaccounted for.

But thanks to some skilled pilots and a few coffee cups, those campers were able to get out of the park safely.

Homeland Security pilots had tracked the campers the day before and knew where they were, but they couldn't find a way to get word to them about the situation unfolding around them.

Loudspeakers couldn't break through the rugged terrain and canyons, so the pilots came up with a very creative way to communicate.

"I figured I needed something that would not go too far into the snow, that they could see, that I could write on, that they could get a hold of, so we used our coffee cups," said pilot Dave Simeur.

The pilots actually dropped two coffee cups, writing on them to let the group know about the danger and, more importantly, how to avoid it by taking a specific road out of the park.

The pilots said there are ways campers can protect themselves if they end up in a dangerous situation like this weekend's.

They say the easiest and cheapest way is to buy a simple radio or swalkie talkie and set it to channel 9 and put in a privacy code of 1-1.