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#104667 - 09/05/07 02:11 AM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: JCWohlschlag]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
I faintly remember reading or hearing something about ELTs needing enough of an impact to set them off, and that a lesser impact won't set them off and they may need to be turned on manually.

Does anyone know if this is true?

Also, if the ELB is in some sort of trench or canyon, I am assuming that this could severely limit access to satellites?

Sue


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#104669 - 09/05/07 02:19 AM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: Katie]
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
At this point, it's in the cross fingers and hope stage for everyone not in the search. I hope he's just sitting next to his plane cussing himself for being foolish and leaving the satphone or PLB behind.

The impression I got from the NPR report was that he was going to be looking at dry lake beds for some testing he's getting ready for. I know they are usually largish, but how many are there in that area? Every picture of a dry lake bed I've seen looks like a decent place to try land, so long as you miss things like mountains in between them.
_________________________
-IronRaven

When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

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#104674 - 09/05/07 02:34 AM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: Susan]
Doug_Ritter Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1960
Originally Posted By: Susan
I faintly remember reading or hearing something about ELTs needing enough of an impact to set them off, and that a lesser impact won't set them off and they may need to be turned on manually.

Does anyone know if this is true?

Also, if the ELB is in some sort of trench or canyon, I am assuming that this could severely limit access to satellites?


The problem, even with the latest generation ELTs is that they are too easily set off. This why even a moderately hard landing can set them off. If a landing is soft enough not to set off the ELT's G switch, it's unlikely to damage the pilot and pax.

Having said that, they all do have a manually activated switch. They also have innumerable ways to fail, which is why they are so unreliable.

PLBs will work fine as long as they have a modest view of the sky. We have tested them in pretty narrow and deep canyons and gorges. They may not get a GPS fix, if they are so equipped, and they may not get to the Geostationary satellite (though often the signal reflected off canyon walls will still do so), but the Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites will eventually get a Doppler location over a matter of just a few hours max and depending upon geometry and timing, possibly within 20-30 minutes.
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#104732 - 09/05/07 04:26 PM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: Susan]
JimJr Offline
Member

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 133
Loc: Central Mississippi
I'd be willing to bet that the ELT on his plane was a EBC-502. This type is quite prevalent on the small aircraft like the Decathalon. They appear to be darn near indestructible and will successfully operate even on very old batteries (like the one I found in a FBO's dumpster with 7 year old batteries). All they need is a decently open view of the sky.

I hope Steve comes out of this latest "adventure" ok.

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#104737 - 09/05/07 05:06 PM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: JimJr]
Katie Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 08/23/07
Posts: 85
Here's an interesting quote from CNN.com :

Quote:
Branson struck a more cautious tone Wednesday, saying he was "obviously worried" that Fossett may be injured because he was wearing a watch capable of emitting an emergency distress signal. If Fossett were OK, Branson surmised, he would've been able to activate the manually operated signal.

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#104753 - 09/05/07 07:24 PM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: Doug_Ritter]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4934
Loc: SOCAL
I heard the weather was good, but that doesn't mean he didn't catch some bad air while he was checking sites to set a land speed record. On that thought, it seems to me this is something done from low altitude. Low altitude, low speed, highly maneuverable aircraft. . . over-confidence. . . one little burble. . . I wonder how low he was flying. . . I don't feel confident we'll see Steve Fossett walking again, hope I'm wrong.

Look at the search area: "Fossett's single-engine plane vanished Monday over a section Nevada east of Lake Tahoe and the California border that is marked by rugged mountains jutting to 10,000 feet, steep canyons and sagebrush-filled desert." LA Times article

Not exactly the "dry lake bed" Fossett was looking for. Air currents in the Sierras can be really nasty.

Break

My EDC grew from my time in aviation. There's a small amount of gear you always take, it might be a helmet bag, a small backpack, a survival vest you always wear, whatever. These days my helmet bag has a liter of water, maybe a sandwich, headset, notebook, multi-tool, RSK Mk1 and if I felt any need for a PLB there would be one of those too. Fossett left his sat-phone on the ground; what else did he leave? The Citabria Super Decathlon is small, but it's not so small that a helmet bag can't go along.



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#104754 - 09/05/07 07:49 PM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: Russ]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 855
Loc: Colorado
Fossett has excellent chances based on experience and skill. That he was checking out dry lakes is a plus in case of engine failure because of the possibly benign nature of landing there.

On the other hand, if he were doing something like rolling the wheels on the dry lakebed to test it or was flying very low he could have encountered ruts, mud, birdstrike or other hazards.

That there is no ELT signal but no one has seen a plane shape on a dry lakebed suggests to me that the plane is upside down and the ELT antenna is ripped off and perhaps he's pinned so he can't remove the ELT for use. Seems very unlikely that he just flew into the side of a hill for some reason.

As time goes on things look much worse.

C'mon Fossett - show us how to survive it.....

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#104758 - 09/05/07 08:22 PM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: unimogbert]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4934
Loc: SOCAL
If his engine quit at altitude I have no doubt Fossett's experience and skill would find a place to set it down. Then he could/would have manually triggered the ELT and waited for rescue -- no ELT. This is where he kicks himself for leaving that Sat-phone behind.

Sometimes experience and skill are outvoted by over-confidence. If something went wrong at low altitude Fossett may have found himself behind the power curve and he may not have been able to recover. Things happen fast and there's not much time to fix a problem. Even a low speed accident can be fatal.

If he's still in the plane, it's hot and he hasn't had a drink since Monday. I just hope the aircraft stayed intact and is not so obscured that it can't be found before he dies of exposure.

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#104778 - 09/06/07 01:23 AM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: Russ]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
From the Associated Press (http://www.wtop.com/index.php?nid=104&pid=0&sid=1238355&page=1):

"Authorities said the airplane carried food, water and other survival gear, and estimated Fossett could survive at least a week."

Sue

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#104781 - 09/06/07 01:52 AM Re: Steve Fossett SAR [Re: Susan]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4934
Loc: SOCAL
Thanks Sue. I'm really surprised by that; I've never seen a small general aviation aircraft that carried food, water and survival supplies for a week. How much would that weigh? Maybe it just goes with the high desert region the aircraft is in and the owners just know enough to keep it stocked. But all those good supplies and Fossett leaves his Sat-phone on the ground. Just doesn't make sense. . .

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