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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Tall Tales  |  Topic: Share Your ELT/EPIRB Chasing Stories
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Author Topic: Share Your ELT/EPIRB Chasing Stories  (Read 27406 times)
Pylon
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Michael Kieloch, Marketing Communications & PR Leadership
« on: March 11, 2005, 01:07:16 PM »

Everybody has a salty story of how they chased around that elusive ELT or EPIRB signal, perhaps circling around for hours, or going right over the source several times, or just plain not being able to find the transmitter.
 


I know I've known of a few decent stories that came up in the debriefings/reports at Group staff meetings.  The most memorable for me is one where the call for the signal came in the afternoon.  An aircrew was at the airport quickly and picked up the signal as soon as they were aloft.  They figured it was back at the airport on the ramp, so they landed and checked around with a handheld DF.  However, there was no trace of the signal at the international airport.
 
So they got airborne again to immediately pick up the rather strong signal.  They checked a nearby semi-private airstrip and were still getting signals, so they landed and checked out the scene.  As soon as they landed, it disappeared on them again.   ::)   After talking to the people at the FBO, they discovered that apparently there was a seaplane at the local marina, so they decided to check that out.

Flying over the marina they were still getting signals, so they dispatched a ground team.  The GT drove up and confirmed that it was not the seaplane, but they were getting the signal on the ground.  With some handy DFing, they figured out it was in the marina.  However, none of the boats were looking like good candidates and it was difficult to pin down the direction of the signal.  Eventually, someone decided to check a dumpster and found a discarded EPIRB in an empty dumpster at the marina.   :P

Apparently the metal dumpster was bouncing the signal all around, not to mention being in a rather unlikely location to find it.  Made for an interesting story, though.   ;D
 
So what's your elusive ELT story?
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Michael F. Kieloch, Maj, CAP
Concord Composite Squadron, NH       
voopvoop
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« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2005, 08:08:56 PM »

Two units that shall remain nameless went looking for an ELT for several days.  They gave up and the IC asked me if I could drive 1 1/2 to take over with a small team.  We drove to the front of a airport set up the L-PER and walked directly to a hanger.  A guy standing outside the next door to the hanger slapped his head and yelled "I just gave that Asswipe a new battery *for his ELT"  He unlocked the door to the hanger and we entered to see the most amazing mess I've ever seen.  A large car was suspended over our heads and the walls were covered with hundred (thousands?) of shoe boxes filled with various junk.  I looked at all this crap and said we are NEVER going to find it in this pile of crap.  My Lt said we just have to start somwhere.  She opened the first box looked in and said "Is this an ELT?"  At first I though no, not the right sort of shape but... It was!  And it was the one sending the offending signal.  I was SO happy.

Now the funny part is that the other two teams called me at home asking where I found it and what "trick" I used to find it so quickly.  *They never got close to the building - don't ask me why.  When I told them they got angry and really obnoxious.  Weird?!?!?
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SAR junkie
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2005, 05:02:18 PM »

Well this one starts out at a meeting. We were doing emergency services that night i believe. we ended up at RJ Coremans place in Nicholasville thinking it was one of his private crafts. it turned out that it was at a hotel with the owner. it was in the back of his truck ::) . he had taken a hard landing and knew that it had gone off. so he took it out of the plane and turned it off. then put it in his truck. something in his truck hit it again so it started going off again. this thing was so old that the box it was in was rusting  :P . (not that interesting i know. my crew and i thought it was funny at the time)

another time we got called out at midnight and ended up in  Frankfort @ the boone national guard center. by the time we found the blackhawk it was in it was 330am. we had to get the first sgt. out of bed on memorial day morning @ 330am to come unlock the chopper so we could turn off the ELT. he was NOT happy. (actually a few weeks later we got called out again..and ended up with the SAME ELT on the SAME chopper.)

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C/MSgt Caliguiri
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2005, 11:13:18 PM »

Well this one starts out at a meeting. We were doing emergency services that night i believe. we ended up at RJ Coremans place in Nicholasville thinking it was one of his private crafts. it turned out that it was at a hotel with the owner. it was in the back of his truck ::) . he had taken a hard landing and knew that it had gone off. so he took it out of the plane and turned it off. then put it in his truck. something in his truck hit it again so it started going off again. this thing was so old that the box it was in was rusting  :P . (not that interesting i know. my crew and i thought it was funny at the time)


You should have been up on our end after y'all told us that Corman's place was clean. Our Becker was Tango Uniform, and once we got it nulled down even better, all we saw was that great big truck terminal next door to the motel. We figured we'd be up there highbirding all night while you cleared that place out!

By the way, thanks for helping out with our aircrew school the last 2 weekends. I didn't get a chance to thank you myself before you left. Flew 7.4 on highbird last Sunday, so I was absent for most of it.
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Col Matthew Creed, CAP
Skyray
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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2005, 12:18:45 PM »

This one is pretty old, taking place as it did just at the rise of HazMat awareness among law enforcement agencies.  We had a very elusive EPIRB that seemed to be moving, and a major that was phenomenal in tracking them.  He called on the radio and asked for state police help in stopping a moving van that seemed to be the source of the signal.  In trying to explain what we wanted, the radio operator told the state police dispatcher that we were trying to track down a "device" in a truck that was "radiating."  Shortly after that, the major was confronted with a full nuclear response team, complete with HazMat suits and decontamination gear.
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Doug Johnson - Miami

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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2005, 12:35:22 PM »

This one is pretty old, taking place as it did just at the rise of HazMat awareness among law enforcement agencies. We had a very elusive EPIRB that seemed to be moving, and a major that was phenomenal in tracking them. He called on the radio and asked for state police help in stopping a moving van that seemed to be the source of the signal. In trying to explain what we wanted, the radio operator told the state police dispatcher that we were trying to track down a "device" in a truck that was "radiating." Shortly after that, the major was confronted with a full nuclear response team, complete with HazMat suits and decontamination gear.

hmmm...  you're a major, aren't you Skyray?   :D
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Skyray
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2005, 01:54:11 PM »


hmmm...  you're a major, aren't you Skyray?   :D

Yes, or no, depending on how you look at it, but it wasn't I.  Vic was his first name, and I am having a senior moment over his last name.  He burned out and disappeared in the early 90s.  He was almost as good with an L'Per as I am ;D
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Doug Johnson - Miami

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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2005, 02:23:34 PM »

It's been a few years since I've been involved in a really odd ELT search, but back when I was a member on the other side of the "cheddar curtian" (WI) our squadron tracked down a carrier only signal coming from a Bart Simpson Video game at the  Burlington Chocolate Fest. 

And then there was the other carrier only signal coming from an electic fence on an Amish farm.  Go figure. 
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Doug Kilian, Lt Col, CAP
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pixelwonk
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2005, 02:29:35 PM »

It's been a few years since I've been involved in a really odd ELT search, but back when I was a member on the other side of the "cheddar curtian" (WI) our squadron tracked down a carrier only signal coming from a Bart Simpson Video game at the Burlington Chocolate Fest.

And then there was the other carrier only signal coming from an electric fence on an Amish farm. Go figure.

Ah yes... the Bart Simson game.  I remember Lt Col Trossen (then Capt) from MESS telling me that story the first time I visited a CAP squadron. I've yet to have one THAT challenging, however I've found a few practice beacons placed along looooonnnnng metal fencelines by heinous Ground Branch Directors.
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Skyray
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« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2005, 05:04:01 PM »

Quote
I've yet to have one THAT challenging, however I've found a few practice beacons placed along looooonnnnng metal fencelines by heinous Ground Branch Directors.

My second favorite trick.  First favorite was to put a directional antenna on a Pointer, and aim the directional antenna at a hundred and fifty foot tower on the old blimp base that was literally covered with antennae.  At least one of those many antennae would resonate at 121.775, and the ground team would be faced with a df signal that could not be resolved.  Even if they got up there, which was nearly impossible, then they had a signal coming in from somewhere else. Diabolical.

What fun we had.
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Doug Johnson - Miami

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« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2005, 08:03:40 PM »

People think in two dimensions. A simple trick is to  put it in a tree, out of sight.

I've watched several GT's circle a tree (usually more than once) and figure their 'Lper was out of whack and never looked up.
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Skyray
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« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2005, 11:19:37 PM »

People think in two dimensions. A simple trick is to  put it in a tree, out of sight.

I've watched several GT's circle a tree (usually more than once) and figure their 'Lper was out of whack and never looked up.

You're almost as rotten as I am.  Another variation of that is we have an expressway access ramp that rises about fifty feet and then makes a serpentine lift turn before it joins the expressway.  Right under it is a small strip mall, and wouldn't you know it, the last store before you get to the overpass right of way has rooftop parking.  More than one Pointer has ended up on that roof, where you are looking up from the street below, and down from the access ramp.
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Doug Johnson - Miami

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SarDragon
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« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2005, 05:27:25 AM »

Desert environment. Practice beacon with a small Yagi attached, pointing down a dry wash about 10 feet deep, pointing north. Minimal access from the west, needing 4WD and a good driver. Only other access is from the south on a lane and a half wide packed road that's almost unnoticeable from the paved road. Took 3 teams almost three hours to find it. The best hits were up in the hills in the west, where LOS was over the bank, and from the north, where the Yagi pointed. Didn't get a real strong hit from the south until we were within 100 ft.
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Dave Bowles
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2005, 01:46:30 PM »

So SarDragon, were you searching, or the diabolical brain behind putting it there?

That sounds like an ideal situation for an airplane technique that once pinpointed a "really" for me within twenty five feet.  Station passage is sometimes a little hard to determine with an L-Per.  Never used one, but I suspect the super equipment you guys are using now is not much different.  So you set up a track, preferrably on a meridian or a parallel (tracking straight north and south or east and west).  Get station passage, then fly about two miles away from your baseline and set up a track on the perpendicular.  When your new track crosses the original track, you are directly overhead.  With careful navigation and today's enhanced GPS equipment, you can literally get within feet.  Then a good map or chart will show you how to get there.

That brings me to another war story.  Ground teams instintively know that the beacon is going to be close to access.  Even an airplane will deviate off what the L-Per is telling him to follow a road, at least on a practice mission.  Maybe ten years ago, I set a beacon for Wayne Roshaven, whom I believe is now doing something for Georgia in the Appalachians.  But at the time, he was down here in swamp country, and his instructions to me were to make it tough.  It was simple enough, I drove out to where there were no roads in the Everglades, unlimbered my trusty canoe, and paddled six miles straight out from the nearest road.  Took the airplanes several hours to find us, and we didn't see a ground team all day.
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Doug Johnson - Miami

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Pylon
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Michael Kieloch, Marketing Communications & PR Leadership
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2005, 01:51:00 PM »

Quote from: Skyray
  It was simple enough, I drove out to where there were no roads in the Everglades, unlimbered my trusty canoe, and paddled six miles straight out from the nearest road.  Took the airplanes several hours to find us, and we didn't see a ground team all day.

Did you at least bring a fishing rod?  ;)
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Michael F. Kieloch, Maj, CAP
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Skyray
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« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2005, 02:02:46 PM »

Quote from: Skyray
  It was simple enough, I drove out to where there were no roads in the Everglades, unlimbered my trusty canoe, and paddled six miles straight out from the nearest road.  Took the airplanes several hours to find us, and we didn't see a ground team all day.

Did you at least bring a fishing rod?  ;)

Actually, I did.  And a picnic basket, and a friend.  Didn't catch anything though.
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Doug Johnson - Miami

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« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2005, 02:36:07 PM »

It's been a few years since I've been involved in a really odd ELT search, but back when I was a member on the other side of the "cheddar curtian" (WI) our squadron tracked down a carrier only signal coming from a Bart Simpson Video game at the Burlington Chocolate Fest.

And then there was the other carrier only signal coming from an electric fence on an Amish farm. Go figure.

Ah yes... the Bart Simson game.  I remember Lt Col Trossen (then Capt) from MESS telling me that story the first time I visited a CAP squadron. I've yet to have one THAT challenging, however I've found a few practice beacons placed along looooonnnnng metal fencelines by heinous Ground Branch Directors.

Well, since Doug and Tedd brought it up...

We were running a practice SAR at the time. I was pulling double duty - the first half of the day I was supposed to be an observer and in the afternoon I was going to be CUD (Comm Unit Director, back before we went fully to ICS positions). This was back WIWAC ('94, in fact), so the details are a might fuzzy. As I recall, we diverted and aircraft to the Burlington, WI area after we got the call from AFRCC. All the aircrew got was a carrier-only signal on 121.5, with occasional bursts of what they thought was a garbled voice. So we got a ground team together from those of us at the mission base that could get away and supplemented that with another team already in the field.

By the time we got into the area, the aircrew had pretty well narrowed the signal down, and they were sure they'd heard a voice through the static. Unfortunately, the spot they narrowed it down to was downtown Burlington, WI. At the height of the Burlington Chocolate Fest, an annual shindig put on in conjunction with the Nestle plant there in town. And we're not talking just some little street festival. No, this is a full-blown production in a park by the river, complete with music, food and a midway, with all manner of rides and such fun.

Between the two teams, we had three L-Pers and an air-band handheld, so we split into four groups to see if we could track this thing down.

(Mental note: EVERY midway ride that uses electricity in any way puts out wideband noise. Especially those bumber cars!)

Cut to the chase: eventually we all agree on what it was. A faulty (and/or poorly grounded) distribution box at the back of the arcade tent. And right on the other side of the box? A Simpson's arcade game! Complete with Bart occasionally yelling "help!" Doh!


Can't say much about the Amish electric fence, since I wasn't there. But it was the same aircrew that found the video game... They were over in Michigan Wing helping out with a missing aircraft search and got tasked to track down this intermittent signal that kept popping up out in the middle of nowhere. So they found it. And it turned out to be an electric fence... on an Amish farm.


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Chris Trossen, Lt Col, CAP
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pixelwonk
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« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2005, 02:40:54 PM »

Thanks for the story!  Nice to have you aboard CAPtalk, Chris.   :)
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SarDragon
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« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2005, 03:51:58 PM »

So SarDragon, were you searching, or the diabolical brain behind putting it there? [redacted]
I was with one of the ground teams. We were using L-pers, nothing fancy. No aerial involvement on this one. It was part of a small SAREX we had in Jan 2002. I'm still learning the diabolical tricks.
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Dave Bowles
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« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2005, 10:50:04 PM »

Thanks for the story!  Nice to have you aboard CAPtalk, Chris.   :)
Indeed. Man's got to have a place to hang his hat after a long hard day in the Imperial service, after all. ;-)

Which brings me to the next war story. This one from but a couple of years ago (long after you left cheddarland, Doug)...

I get a call from our wing Director of Emergency Services. Seems there's been this ELT going off in the Racine, WI vicinity for the past three days. He'd gone out the past two days with his unit to try to find the bugger, but they'd had no luck. So he wondered if I wanted a shot. He even offered up one of his Senior members to help out, since this was the middle of the morning and all by cadets were at school.

So, after a brief conversation with the on-call wing duty officer, I go get myself a UDF team consisting of myself, one of my senior members and the senior whose services were offered up (Capt. Michele-no-loner-Bizub Malinowski). And we drive on down to Racine.

Well, as it turns out, the problem on this, the THIRD day of what otherwise should have been a relatively simple ELT findit mission, was that the signal mysteriously "went away" before anyone could localize it. So we decided to speculate a bit on the way down. Now Michele's an electrical engineer (and Doug, someday you could probably recount the project y'all worked on back there in college), and while I'm nowhere near as qualified as her, I'm a comm-badge-with-star-and-wreath wearing senior member, so we're trying to figure out what the problem was...

But we get down to Racine and, low and behold, 'tain't much a problem figuring out where the signal's coming from. It's February in Wisconsin and there's a marina sitting along the river that has a couple of yards filled with boats up on blocks for the winter. So we pull in to the parking lot, I get out to talk to the marina people inside while my crack team sets up the L-Pers.

I get inside, only to see a friendly young Coast Guard Petty Officer talking to the young lass behind the counter. Yup, definitely in the right place. So the Petty Officer and I head back outside to start looking through the boats to find our EPIRB. But wait! Thar be problems... seems that in the time it took us to get out of the vehicle and hook up the sticks, the signal vanished.

Ahh, but not a problem for us... between the three of us CAPers, we've got two Spaatzes and an E.E. degree. This thing *couldn't* possibly just go away like that. It's got to be radiating *something*, right?

Well, no. Nothing. Nada. (Unfortunately, we were too smart for ourselves and kept trying to track a carrier that wasn't there for a while longer.) And after a good conversation with the CDO at the local Coast Guard station, it seems this thing was literally cutting out sometime between noon and 1pm each day, only to come back early in the morning. Strange...

Cut to the next morning, 'bout 0730. I get a call from the CDO. Seems the thing came back, and thankfully the Coast Guard district went "live" with the mission before AFRCC. So I get the team back together and go back out while our duty officer opens the mission back up with RCC. Head down to the marina and nail the bugger. And just like clockwork, just past noon the thing shuts off. Thankfully we were on the boat at the time. Hold the L-Per up to the EPIRB antenna, and for a few minutes you heard a *real* faint signal. 10 ft. away - NOTHING. After that, the thing just went completely silent.

Postscript - it was a brand new 406 MhZ EPIRB. The marina swears up and down the owner is the kind of guy who would absolutely register his beacon (he runs a fishing charter in the summer). So don't believe everything you hear, be it "this guy registers everying" or "we can tell you exactly who owns this beacon if it's registered."


(Double Postscript, though much shorter - This time I'm the IC and I send the Wing ES Officer and his team out on an ELT between Milwaukee and Racine (also with him the ground team belonging to the husband of the duty officer in the previous story, supported by one of my aircrews). After ranging far and wide, they finally localize the thing to Mitchell Field--the same place the ES Officer's team originated from (though 'bout 1/2 mile away). 'Twas the Harley Davidson Citation. Brand new 406 ELT. Carrier only, and *NOT* transmitting on 406.)
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Chris Trossen, Lt Col, CAP
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Skyray
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« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2005, 11:40:26 PM »

Evey one is talking about the Mitchell award. What exactly is it.

It's like the Curry, only a lot later in life and experience. ;D
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Doug Johnson - Miami

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« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2005, 10:26:53 AM »

Evey one is talking about the Mitchell award. What exactly is it.

It's like the Curry, only a lot later in life and experience. ;D

 i still don't get it
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Cadet A1C Christin Bonnett
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« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2005, 11:15:41 AM »


 i still don't get it

The Billy Mitchell Award

Bored? Spent some time with your new friend, the CAPR 52-16
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Christie Ducote, Capt, CAP
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« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2005, 11:16:46 AM »


 i still don't get it

The Billy Mitchell Award

Bored? Spent some time with your new friend, the CAPR 52-16

okay thanks
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Cadet A1C Christin Bonnett
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Skyray
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« Reply #24 on: June 26, 2005, 11:26:21 AM »

Sorry for the smart answer.  You just took the Curry and got promoted, right?  The Mitchell is another test.  I was never a cadet, and I don't know the program that well, but I think the Mitchell is for promotion to C/Capt, and it is a pretty big deal.  One of the cadets or former cadets on here can give you more valid information.  You'll find that there is a big rivalry with former cadets who are now senior members about the level they reached in the cadet program.  You are young enough, and interested enough, I suggest that you make a career plan to go for your Spaatz.  My personal opinion is that it is a much more prestigious award than Eagle Scout, although not so well publicized.  The Spaatzen and the next level (Eaker, I think) have a national organization.  Obviously I never qualified to be a member of either because I was never a cadet, so I probably really ought to stop talking about it and leave the subject to someone who knows something about it.  Matt Johnson, my evil twin, where are you now that we need you?

Note to the moderator:  this is not as off topic as it looks.  One of the posts had a sig line bragging about the Mitchell, and piqued the curiosity of this new and enthusiastic young lady.  Move it?
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Doug Johnson - Miami

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« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2005, 11:28:48 AM »

Sorry for the smart answer.  You just took the Curry and got promoted, right?  The Mitchell is another test.  I was never a cadet, and I don't know the program that well, but I think the Mitchell is for promotion to C/Capt, and it is a pretty big deal.  One of the cadets or former cadets on here can give you more valid information.  You'll find that there is a big rivalry with former cadets who are now senior members about the level they reached in the cadet program.  You are young enough, and interested enough, I suggest that you make a career plan to go for your Spaatz.  My personal opinion is that it is a much more prestigious award than Eagle Scout, although not so well publicized.  The Spaatzen and the next level (Eaker, I think) have a national organization.  Obviously I never qualified to be a member of either because I was never a cadet, so I probably really ought to stop talking about it and leave the subject to someone who knows something about it.  Matt Johnson, my evil twin, where are you now that we need you?

Note to the moderator:  this is not as off topic as it looks.  One of the posts had a sig line bragging about the Mitchell, and piqued the curiosity of this new and enthusiastic young lady.  Move it?

thank you very much. Hope to someday recieve all the achivements cap is like m life.....
I love it..
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Cadet A1C Christin Bonnett
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« Reply #26 on: June 26, 2005, 11:29:52 AM »

Sorry for the smart answer.  You just took the Curry and got promoted, right?  The Mitchell is another test.  I was never a cadet, and I don't know the program that well, but I think the Mitchell is for promotion to C/Capt, and it is a pretty big deal.  One of the cadets or former cadets on here can give you more valid information.  You'll find that there is a big rivalry with former cadets who are now senior members about the level they reached in the cadet program.  You are young enough, and interested enough, I suggest that you make a career plan to go for your Spaatz.  My personal opinion is that it is a much more prestigious award than Eagle Scout, although not so well publicized.  The Spaatzen and the next level (Eaker, I think) have a national organization.  Obviously I never qualified to be a member of either because I was never a cadet, so I probably really ought to stop talking about it and leave the subject to someone who knows something about it.  Matt Johnson, my evil twin, where are you now that we need you?

Note to the moderator:  this is not as off topic as it looks.  One of the posts had a sig line bragging about the Mitchell, and piqued the curiosity of this new and enthusiastic young lady.  Move it?

Actually the Mitchell award promotes a cadet to Cadet Second Lieutenant.  We'll leave the posts here and just drive on with other ELT/EPIRB stories from here on out.  
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Christie Ducote, Capt, CAP
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« Reply #27 on: June 26, 2005, 06:20:17 PM »

back on topic....

Several years ago in COWG, we placed an ELT next to a small  bridge at the end of an airstrip at a marina.  The marina was located in a small valley surrounded on three sides by mountains. 

The GT showed up, parked right next to the bridge almost stepping on the ELT as they departed the van.  They spent the next 2 hours wandering around chasing signals. With the combination of water, mountains and power lines, you can guess that signals were bouncing everywhere.  They searched parked planes, boats and even yelled to people on the water.

They finally gave up and called in another team.  While boarding the van, a cadet stepped on it!  Score one for "Big Foot" as he is now known!
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Skyray
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« Reply #28 on: June 26, 2005, 08:56:01 PM »

back on topic....

Several years ago in COWG, we placed an ELT next to a small  bridge at the end of an airstrip at a marina.  The marina was located in a small valley surrounded on three sides by mountains. 

The GT showed up, parked right next to the bridge almost stepping on the ELT as they departed the van.  They spent the next 2 hours wandering around chasing signals. With the combination of water, mountains and power lines, you can guess that signals were bouncing everywhere.  They searched parked planes, boats and even yelled to people on the water.

They finally gave up and called in another team.  While boarding the van, a cadet stepped on it!  Score one for "Big Foot" as he is now known!

Yeah, them derisive nicknames were always a threat.  Sounds like your boys could have used some training.  Signal had to be strong, did anybody start turning down the sensitivity?  Marinas are always fun, especially sailboat marinas with lots of masts.  Signal bounces everywhere.  But a reflected signal is always [never trust anyone that says always] weaker than the primary, just turn the sensitivity down until you only have one signal, and unless you are the world's unluckiest cadet, that signal is going to be the primary.  At that point you may have to unplug the antenna and go to body shadowing techniques.  Bruce Gordon tells me that the new digital L-Per is not going to have a sensitivity control, I can't wait to get one and try to devise an alternate technique.  Won't it be a gas if the alternate technique turns out to be carry an old L-Per with sensitivity control?

Strong signals can be a pain.  Homestead AFB (long time ago, people)  left their Guard transmitter on to the tune of about fifty watts a while back.  The wing looked for it off and on for about eight hours while I was being the operations officer on a missing airplane search, so when we shut down flight ops for the night, they sent me to see if I could find this dead carrier.  Using sensitivity, I brought it right down to the offending antenna, and we called the unit commander for that antenna out.  He was not happy to be called back to work by a bunch of Civil Air Patrol, but he was pretty embarassed when he unlocked the GCA trailer (where the antenna was connected by coax) and found the calibrate switch had been left on when the transmitter was switched back to the antenna after calibration.  Although I was fairly confident, I was pretty relieved to see him so embarassed.
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Matt
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Wisconsin Wing
« Reply #29 on: August 10, 2005, 10:22:04 AM »

Ok, I have a couple stories here...

1.)  Every year in WIWG we have an invitational SAREX...  Select ground teams go specidically for some far, far, far.... FAR.. out curve balls.  The OIC, for those that know him, is NUTS!  He's a former Ranger w/ the 2nd Ranger Battalion.  He believes in some weird [redacted -- don't try and bypass the censor filter. Thanks. --MK] training, but it gets the job done.  Thus far, we've had ELT searches in which these things are scattered.... One year, he decided to place the ELT on an Electric Fence.  It created a 3 MILE ANTENNA!  Following, he planted one on a cow, that's right livestock...  Some range to the back of his vehicle with him following us, other vehicles, power plant sub stations, high tension wires, etc.... Yearly, we endure training like this, and we love every minute of it....

Let me tell ya'll something... Power Substations carry an ELT signal in the lines for around 25 miles (Just some general advice).
 
 
 
« Last Edit: August 10, 2005, 11:58:52 AM by Pylon » Logged
Matthew Kopp, Capt, CAP
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Matt
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Wisconsin Wing
« Reply #30 on: August 10, 2005, 10:31:05 AM »

2.)

Recently, we had an airshow up here in WI, no not EAA, although that was fun.  Manitowok Airshow.  I had a primarily new GT under me and they had never done what we call the MESS ELT search (my squadron has an Expedition, we drive to the beacons to the best of our ability), well we were assigned golf carts in spirit of easing our staff.  So, we did our ELT search, on the air field with the golf carts through revines, ditches, grass and hills...

The only catch was stopping at our hangar to clean them off before we returned them... except that one wheel wouldn't straighten out....  ;D
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Xeno
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« Reply #31 on: August 10, 2005, 07:29:56 PM »

Let me tell ya'll something... Power Substations carry an ELT signal in the lines for around 25 miles (Just some general advice).

I know exactly what you mean, the past two SAREXs in ARWG had ELTs placed around power substations. My team would get within signal range which, as Matt stated, is drastically heightened when placed in this area, and we wouldn't be able to tell which way to go next. The signal was the same strength in every direction and no matter how hard I tried I was not able to triangulate it. At the last SAREX we were the only GT to mobilize at all (GT 2 & 3 had paperwork issues from what I hear), That mission we had four ELTs to track and two of them were going off at the same time. Luckily we had a bird in the air that picked up a signal and they guided us to one target. The others expired before we could get to them.
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C/1st Lt. Josh Sims
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121.5 -- If you crash, we will dash...
Matt
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« Reply #32 on: August 11, 2005, 04:19:07 PM »

Well, when in doubt, sniff it out....  Find the strong point, even if it's not real, the bounce WILL lead you to the real one... may take longer, but it's a nifty little trick to remember...
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Pylon
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Michael Kieloch, Marketing Communications & PR Leadership
« Reply #33 on: August 11, 2005, 09:52:08 PM »

Quote from: Matt
Well, when in doubt, sniff it out....  Find the strong point, even if it's not real, the bounce WILL lead you to the real one... may take longer, but it's a nifty little trick to remember...

Totally off-topic sidebar: 
 
Definitely.  You can almost always find the original source even when the signal is propagated by something else, especially by stepping up the signal freq. when DFing.  For example, when you're getting a stronger signal, kick it up to 121.55 or 121.6, and DF that... then try 121.65, and DF that, etc.   The bleed over into higher frequencies will be greater when you're nearer the actual source of the signal, not the reflector or propagator.
 
Okay.  Resume the original discussion.  :)
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Michael F. Kieloch, Maj, CAP
Concord Composite Squadron, NH       
Schmidty06
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« Reply #34 on: August 14, 2005, 03:21:25 AM »

In a way, that is along the lines of the original discussion.  You're sharing ELT/EPIRB search tidbits of knowledge and wisdom.  The more information that is presented and "No kiddin' there I was!" that is provided, the easier it is for everyone who picks up said little nuggets of SAR goodness to solve similar problems when they run into them in real life.

Conclusion:  Don't be afraid to get geeky with your stories, put all of that techno-babble in there! Heck, maybe even use foot notes or something.  This is an internet forum, not a chat room, you have time to put stuff together.
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Jerry
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« Reply #35 on: August 18, 2005, 08:23:24 PM »

Well, for a short one, we were alerted to an ELT near Asheville, NC. Team goes to the area. Nothing.  Next plot shows a signal near Rutherfordton, NC. OK, teams go there.  Nuttin. :o  Next hit near Shelby, NC.  THE DURN THING'S MOVIN'!!!!!!  Becomes stationary in Charlotte, NC.  Yep, in a UPS truck being SHIPPED. Located at the UPS distribution center near I-85.  About 8 teams in all (including mine) involved in that one.  First one I ever literally chased down the road! LOL!
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Xeno
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« Reply #36 on: August 18, 2005, 11:24:22 PM »

Ha! Good one.
You just reminded me that we have to send our practice ELT to the factory to get the battery replaced soon. I can already see us chasing our own ELT down I-30.
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C/1st Lt. Josh Sims
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Schmidty06
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« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2005, 08:45:28 PM »

That would be funny and sad at the same time.  What if it were to get delivered to your squadron before you could get it tracked down?  Does C/Amn Snuffy who opens the box get the find?
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Jerry
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« Reply #38 on: August 19, 2005, 11:09:59 PM »

One night in the 70's we were at our weekly Wing Staff meeting(been there and done THAT, too!) when about 9 PM an ELT was reported on Charlotte-Douglas airport.  So we dutifully dragged out our gear and starting tracking it. Trouble was, it was reflected all over the place by the WWII- era hangars and we were getting signals everywhere and nowhere at the same time (GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR >:(  ) Never mind that we all had jobs, but you know us CAP types and we kept at it until the wee hours of the morning (Yawn).  About 3:30 AM we located it in one of those pesky metal hangars (locked, of course) and we had to hang around until we could get the owner there to let us in.

Around 4:30 AM a group of VERY weary AND punchy CAP'ers went over to a nearby Waffle House for coffee. I mean, what the hay, why go to bed NOW as most of us had to be up at 6 anyway (yawn, again).

At this time (around 1974, I think) a band called Jefferson Starship had a song out (I don't recall the name) being played a lot that started out with a short drum roll and a sound....................you guessed it, like an ELT with the warbling, piercing sound. Now picture this: we've been out on the field for 6-7 hours listening to an ELT.

A young lady in painted-on blue jeans and a 24/7 cigarette drops a quarter in the too-loud juke box and.............................E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E!!! Major ******* sprang up and yelled, "WHAT TH' BLEEPIN' (CENSORED) H$LL!!! :o  He was awake NOW! And we literally fell in the floor laughing while all the patrons stared at this Air Force guy who had yelled as if goosed and now was turning every shade of red there is!   LOL! ;D
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voopvoop
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« Reply #39 on: October 16, 2005, 04:11:23 PM »

We build an Yagi out of measuring tape for 243 and 121MHz that we plug into our L-PER.  It hears further and can scope out above ground and underground ELTs. 

Anyhow we have a SARDOG team in the unit and the handler of one of the Dogs said "Uhh your Car Alarm is going off."  I said this was strange since I didn't have one.  She imitated the sound of an ELT and we all jumped up and starting running around getting the L-Per etc.  One guy turned the L-PER on and I held the Flex Antenna (Straight up) while another guy plugged it in. I looked at the Meter and said "This stupid thing is broken its pinned straight up!"  Our Aviation Expert said, "No, it works fine!  Look up!"  An airplane went overhead and landed.  We cornered the guy before he got into his hanger and awarded a find to the SARDOG.  ;-)
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airforcecolors
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Posts: 23

« Reply #40 on: October 28, 2005, 03:46:26 PM »

OK, in my squadron we have the dumbest set of twins which my squadron commander rudely calls "Dumb and Dumber" but it true!! We'll just call them the twins....

On a practice mission, I was on Twin Alpha's team. Because he can't read a map or understand an Elper, he was the compass bearer.

We were running around all day trying to find this thing, and nothign was adding up. Finally at three hours after our beginning I noticed he was look through the back of the compass and went over to him to see if something was wrong. He said no, and went on taking a reading. You guessed it.... HE WAS READING THE COMPASS BACKWARDS THE ENTIRE TIME!!!!!! OMG and after I announced that the compass was the wrong way, I needed to portect this guy from the rest of our ground team.
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mawr
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« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2006, 11:22:55 AM »

Recently, I was IC for the last two days of a pesky ELT mission.  Following it's conclusion I recieved the story via email detailing this epic mission from the aircrews point of view.  The story is a bit long to post here but you can download the document here:   http://www.alwg.cap.gov/hq/The_Saga_of_Mission_06M1252.doc

I think you'll find it worth your effort to download as we've all "been there".  :D
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Pylon
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Michael Kieloch, Marketing Communications & PR Leadership
« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2006, 11:44:53 AM »

Recently, I was IC for the last two days of a pesky ELT mission.  Following it's conclusion I recieved the story via email detailing this epic mission from the aircrews point of view.  The story is a bit long to post here but you can download the document here:   http://www.alwg.cap.gov/hq/The_Saga_of_Mission_06M1252.doc

I think you'll find it worth your effort to download as we've all "been there".  :D

Hah, great story!  Very well written and entertaining.  Thanks for sharing!   :clap:
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Michael F. Kieloch, Maj, CAP
Concord Composite Squadron, NH       
mprokosch11
Forum Regular

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« Reply #43 on: July 21, 2006, 03:44:28 PM »

Yea great story, I like the reference to Men In Black.
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C/Capt Matthew A. Prokosch, CAP
New York Wing
Utica Cadet Squadron (NER-NY-162)
Cadet Bonnett
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« Reply #44 on: July 31, 2006, 02:50:59 PM »

I had a ELT mission search practice this past weekend. Now let me tell you something funny about it. I was in the field looking for an ELT when all of a sudden the GTL stepped on a huge brown snake. I saw it and ran, with a hig pitched scream (while on private property. We requested permission).

Anyway on to the story of he ELT. We ahd a fairly good idea to where the ELT was located after 3 hours of searching for it. However one of out GTL's were not wanting to go to the area a few rather interesting cadets thought that it was. So our mission staff called the ELT Mission to a stop and we headed abck to base. However when we got back we found out that the ELT was exactly where we thought it was. But it was ll good, because our Ground Team loved helping one another with this project.
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Nolan Teel
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« Reply #45 on: March 04, 2009, 01:47:39 PM »

All I can say, Moving UPS Truck......  Think about that one...
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Phil Hirons, Jr.
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« Reply #46 on: March 04, 2009, 05:19:16 PM »

Gentleman pulls boat out of Wickford, RI harbor, bumps it too hard and then departs for Maine ;D
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maverik
Seasoned Member

Posts: 422

« Reply #47 on: March 04, 2009, 06:54:57 PM »

this one can be summed up pretty quick.   SARSAT gets two hits we go to each and then SARSAT gets a hit 20 miles south at that.  We go there and it moved again, we got to the point where we say screw this and go home. About a week later a KY CAP SQ. commander gets out the elper for an excercise turns it on 121.5 for kicks and gets a signl follows the signal and apprently someone was flying some old parts including an ELT from INDY to KY.
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KC9SFU
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es_g0d
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CAP ES Resources Website
« Reply #48 on: March 07, 2009, 04:23:51 PM »

All:
http://www.cap-es.net/Features/SAR%20War%20Stories.htm is a link for 25 "war" stories.  Enjoy.
-S
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cpyahoo
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« Reply #49 on: January 21, 2012, 01:08:29 AM »

At Blue Beret in 1987, AFRCC informed us we had an ELT going off on Whitman Field.  No real surprise.  My buddy Ted was heading up the Land Rescue Team (now THERE is a term from antiquity!) searching the west end of the airfield.  Ted walked up to the plane and dead-sticked it with the L-Per.  Sure enough... that was our bird!  As we chatted, Ted turned the L-Per back on and... another ELT!  We located it in the plane parked right next to the first one we deactivated!
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Mark_Wheeler
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« Reply #50 on: January 21, 2012, 01:22:09 AM »

Here's an interesting one. It was a little while ago and we had a 406 ELT Plotting to an industrial complex within LA County. We had a rather good GPS fix on it so we decided to go with just 2 UDF teams. While enroute LA County Sheriff Department had a helicopter flying nearby and advised us of the exact address it was plotting at and had 2 deputies report to us to assist. We get access to this building and it turned out to be an aviation warehouse! It was about 3-4 stories how and several thousand square feet! We found it after not that long of a delay thanks to the fact that it was beeping and on ground level.

Mark
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cpyahoo
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« Reply #51 on: January 21, 2012, 07:13:41 PM »

Mark_Wheeler... that is the BEST one I have heard EVER!!!  LOL
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Mark_Wheeler
Member

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« Reply #52 on: January 21, 2012, 07:16:43 PM »

It could have been a lot worse if it was in the middle of the warehouse at the top of a rack. I've had friends chase down signals to helicopters that are still in the air.

Mark
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cpyahoo
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« Reply #53 on: January 21, 2012, 07:20:24 PM »

OK... another one from Blue Beret in Oshkosh.  This one was in 1986.  We picked up an ELT signal on a random scan.  Got the signal verified by AFRCC so we had 3 LRTs (Land Rescue Team) running all over Whitman Field trying to fing this thing.  One team pin-pointed it to a garbage can.  Another team tracked it to a Porta-let.  Yet, another team traced it to an open field.  This craziness went on for about 45 minutes.  Then, it STOPPED.  All three teams reported in what happend.  Base responded back.  The ELT came from a plane that ditched in Lake Winnebago after it ran out of fuel.  Our rescue boat, SEACAP, made the save with 4 personnel recovered.  The waves on Lake Winnebago were shooting the ELT signal all over the place.  Divers from the Sheriff's Dept. went down and shut it off.
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bosshawk
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« Reply #54 on: January 22, 2012, 03:08:11 AM »

Chased one in San Jose, Ca that turned out to be in a Chucky Cheese establishment, in a computer game called "Search and Rescue".  Found it after midnight, when only the Mexican cleaning crew was in the building.

Chased another one for several hours of flying and then DFing it in a car.  Finally went off and then came back on after 1300.  Finally found it in the backseat of a dentists car: he had gone home for lunch, explaining why it left the original scene.

Had two guys from our Sq chase one along the CA coast near Half Moon Bay.  Went back and forth with the CG as to where it was.  Finally located it in a landfill, where our two guys spent over an hour digging into the ripe part of the landfill.  Finally located it and turned it off.  They were awarded a "Shovel of the Half Moon Bay Landfill", mounted on a plaque.

Also chased one in a UPS truck for the better part of two days.

And on and on.
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starshippe
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« Reply #55 on: January 29, 2012, 01:49:28 PM »

   my most challenging....

   christmas eve, 2008, mission 08m2296. an on again, off again elt had managed to elude our aircrew from the previous night, and earlier in the day. i passed off the ic responsibilities and nestled in front of the becker, expecting an elusive search.

   the red x's on the map indicate the three satellite hits, and their times. we heard nothing at those positions. it was dark and it was late, and things weren't looking real good.

   i asked the mp for some wide circles, and detected just a whisper of an elt north east of the hits. i asked the mp to fly from south to north along the longitude where we heard the whisper, 81deg22min, and made a note of the strength of the signal at each minute of latitude. once it was certain that the signal was weaker, i asked for a long slow turn to the west, ending up on an easterly course on the latitude of the strongest signal, 32deg17min. the becker was not giving any indication of direction.

   once again i noted the signal strength at each minute of longitude, and had the mp slowly circle and then fly north to south along that longitude, 81deg17min. the dashed blue lines indicate the lats and lons that we flew, following this same procedure. after several legs of this, the signal was significantly stronger, and the becker locked on and located the elt on the riverfront in savannah. the red flag marks our best guess.

   still, none of this made much sense until i got home and plotted the lats and lons, and found out from the gt that the savannah docks were covered with shipping containers. the signal was radiating out of one end of a container. imagine a beam antenna pointed to the north west, and its easy to see how it gave us the indications we had.

bill   
 
« Last Edit: January 29, 2012, 02:10:11 PM by starshippe » Logged
NIN
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« Reply #56 on: January 29, 2012, 02:55:03 PM »

I seem to recall relating this one once, maybe here, but I'll give the quick version.

I was a 67Y (Cobra Attack Helicopter Repairer) in the Guard following my stint on Active Duty. (Well, I started out as a 67U, then moved to the Guard as a 67U, being told the MI ARNG had Chinooks.  The "in-service" recruiter was a @#$% liar. The AVIM unit had slots for 67Us, as well as 67T (Blackhawks), 67R (Apache), etc, but the MI ARNG did NOT actually have Chinooks at the time, nor were they slated to get them. While I was "one of the Chinook guys" I substantially worked on AH-1s, UH-1s and OH-58s without the corresponding MOS until I went to the manufacturer's school for Apaches during that little dust-up in the Gulf back in 1990-91, and then actually re-classed as a 67Y by doing a year-long school for it to award the MOS).

One day, probably 1993 or so, I'm at the Aviation Support Facility in Grand Ledge on a drill weekend.   I'm be-bopping thru the hangar when I see our maintenance officer standing out on the ramp with an Elper in hand.

"What the *hell* is he doing?" I think, and change course.

"Hey, sir, what are you doing?"

"Well, you see, the aircraft have an emergency transmitter on them and this device-"

I held up my hand "Yeah, tracking, sir. I'm in Civil Air Patrol, I use these all the time.."

"Well, in that case, you know way more about this than me. Here." as he hands me the DF. "We're getting an ELT signal on Guard, can't figure out where its coming from. Its been in the area for the last half hour or so  Good luck."  And he's gone.  @#$% warrant officers!

So I do a few DF sweeps, and I'm getting a signal, albeit attenuated, with no audio, and its not always coming from the same bearing..  I walk out on the ramp near the aircraft, figuring maybe someone forgot to put the disarm clip back on an ELT on a Huey.  The signal is muddled and doesn't point in a legit direction. What the hell?

I spend another 10 minutes or so fooling around and my buddy shows up with one of the aircraft tugs.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"Looking for Martians. Are you one?"

"No."

"Good. Tell ya what, gimme a ride over the the civil side of the field, I need to get wider bearings on this signal."

There were 40-45 helicopters parked out there, the signal could have been bouncing off any one of them. Plus, we had a hangar on the other side of the field that might have an aircraft parked in it, not to mention that the signal might really have been coming from one of the GA aircraft over near the highway.

A couple minutes over there shows me that its not coming from over there. The signal is definitely stronger on the AASF ramp. Back over we go.

I'm standing out on the ramp when the signal starts moving again. "Hey, whoa, hold on, its moving.."

I look toward the hangar just as a truck towing a flatbed with a UH-1 on it pulls out from behind a row of connexes parked next to the hangar and stops right in front of the doors.  Ah ha!

Seems this aircraft had a forced landing at Camp Grayling and instead of fixing it in situ, the powers that be decided the best course of action would be to yank the rotor system, drop it on a low-boy and tow it back to Grand Ledge for repair.  Somewhere in the 150 miles from Cp Grayling, the ELT had started going off.

I walked up to the aircraft, slid one cabin door open, reached inside and clicked the ELT switch to "OFF". The signal ceased.

The muddled signal was due to the fact that when the lowboy arrived, they'd parked between the connexes and the hangar to one side of the main doors, which caused the signal to bounce all over the place.  Right in front of the hangar there was a little narrow "alley" where the signal was coming right out of that space, creating a really strong signal, but due to the way the connexes were placed, you couldn't see that there was anything parked there.  So it caused me to think the signal was coming from 180 degrees out, over toward the civil side of the field.  Duuuuhhh..

I walked in to flight ops and called Colonel Bill Charles, who I believe at the time was our Wing ES officer.  I filled him in on what I had found and that I had deactivated the ELT in case MI Wing was scrambling resources to locate.

He laughed pretty loudly and told me he'd call AFRCC and see what he could find out.

Come to find out, AFRCC had gotten the first SARSAT hit when the trailer was still on US-27 near Mt Pleasant, and the 2nd hit when it was still on US-27 near Lansing.  They were just about to call MI Wing and issue an ALNOT when Colonel Charles had called them.

Colonel Charles gave me a DSN for AFRCC and a name of a TSgt down there to talk to. I call them up, relate all the details (make, model, tail number, etc) and explain the circumstances of the activation.  They got a big laugh out of that, and I wanted to know if that counted as a "find" for MI Wing, and if so, could it be counted as the fastest find ever since we called them before they called us. :)

(I'm pretty sure it did not get counted that way)

That story got related at the Wing Conference later that year, and I'm pretty sure that was one of my finds. :)




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Rogovin
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Posts: 55
Unit: NER-NY-422

« Reply #57 on: January 31, 2012, 07:32:34 PM »

Another Blue Beret story.  Actually i have three good ones.

1)  So i'm there on North Cart trolling for an ELT that went off.  Nothing special, just finding the needle in a haystack (only 5,000 planes on field at  any given moment.)  We find it, and get this: the pilot was a CAP member.  It seems he landed a bit harder than intended.  Very courteous man though.  He had just came from FL (i think, maybe MD).  Very nice and very courteous, was pleasant.  We get that one shut of quickly.  First find on my part :D

2) Immediately following that, we get word from base that there was another ELT in our area.  Sure enough, i check the signal, and there it is.  And it was CLOSE.  I get a bearing on it, and we move off to get closer and triangulate.  We get there, i take another reading, and i can't seem to lock it down.  Also, we were right next to the runway.  Sure enough, i get the signal.  And the LPer was SCREAMING at me.  And i mean SCREAMING.  And we were on 125.65 or something like that.  It was STILL loud as hell.

So i turn to get the signal.  Then for some reason, it drops off.  I turn to catch it again, and i got it back.  But the SM driving the ES cart looks at what i am doing, and sees that i am tracking a plane rolling down the runway to take off.  Meanwhile, i am going "the hell?"  The SM reads the tail number, and sure enough, it was our bird (406 registered beacon, they gave us the tail # and description, which was nice.)  Going, going, going... GONE!  It didn't count as a find, but we radioed in that it took off.  I thought that it was funny, at least after the fact.  All i knew at the time was that i lost a find!

3) Robin's egg blue.  This one is a real funny one.  Base radios us the tail # and description of an overdue aircraft.  They described the color as "Robins egg blue."  Now those of you who have been to NBB know that the radio airwaves are so cluttered that you sometimes have trouble talking with base.  So sure enough, everyone radio's back confirming the description.  Someone radios back "Robin's blue egg."  Pretty funny, considering how many times "Robins egg blue" was said.  Sure enough, we find this sucker of a Light Sport Aircraft queued up to take off.  Another one going, going, going... GONE!  Good times.
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cpyahoo
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« Reply #58 on: February 10, 2012, 12:24:40 PM »

LOL... another one from Blue Beret.  This time, 1989.  We got an ELT signal from AFRCC the 2nd day of Blue Beret.  Not the 2nd day of the Airshow, but the 2nd day of the activity!  There was nary a plane in the North 40 Parking, Warbirds or anyplace on the airfield.
     We launched an ad-hoc LRT (land rescue team) of senior members and cadet staff to find this thing.  After 3 hours of searching, it's narrowed down to the Herman Weaks Hangar at the EAA Museum.  Up to that point, the LRT had a devil of a time tracking it because the signal was going out in 2 directions.  They walked in and talked to an AP mechanic who had just finished up for the day.  He asked, "hey guys... what's up?"  Our steadfast searchers simply replied, "Looking for and ELT.  Seen one?"
     With a funny look on his face, he replied, "Hold on..."  He walked over to his rolling tool chest, popped it opened and produced an ELT.  Sure as shooting... the danged thing was on!!! 
    It must has activated when he chucked it into his tool chest.  The big metal box was shooting the signal in 2 opposite directions! 

Good times!   
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Garibaldi
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Sandy Springs Cadet Squadron
« Reply #59 on: July 07, 2012, 07:24:29 PM »

Since the old thread was dead, and I had something to say, I started a new one.

in the early part of this century (wow, sounds better in my head), the University of Arkansas got a ton of money and set about updating the football stadium. The remodel included a big screen monitor at the north end of the field. When they were testing the thing prior to our first game of the season, it started broadcasting a signal on 121.5. Our flight crew went in search of it, and oddly enough I lived within walking distance of the stadium. Story follows:
---
September 20, 2000

Scoreboard Emits Emergency Signal

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - The new video scoreboard at Arkansas' Razorback Stadium, designed to show replays of touchdowns, instead sent out an emergency signal indicating a plane was down.

The signal was picked up Tuesday at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. In northwest Arkansas, the Civil Air Patrol prepared for action after receiving the transmission about 6 a.m. But Federal Aviation Administration (news - web sites) officials located the source of the signal before long.

``We've identified it as being a Jumbotron,'' FAA official Don Struebing said.

The fiber-optic transmitter that sends signals to the 3,210-square-foot video screen apparently did so on an emergency frequency. The screen - a Saco Smartvision, not a Sony Jumbotron - was being tested in preparation for its debut Saturday during the Alabama-Arkansas game.

``This is very rare. That just happened to match the local frequencies,'' said Jerry Pufall, who operates the screen.

The base at Langley gave a set of coordinates to a local emergency response crew, which ultimately found itself at the stadium, but not before a lot of confusion. The coordinates give a general location, within 20 miles of a site, said Capt. David Winslow, a pilot with the air patrol's Northwest Arkansas Composite Squadron. Upon hearing the signal, Winslow said that it seemed to be coming from within three miles of Drake Field airport in Fayetteville.

``I had mentioned, what's changed here recently?'' Washington County 911 coordinator John Luther. ``Well, all of a sudden you've got this huge stadium scoreboard.'' ``That was where the strongest signal was, right there at the stadium,'' Winslow said.

Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles said the frequency would be modified.
--
I found the story on a website but it's the cause of much laughter at our unit whenever it's mentioned. We still think we should have been awarded a Find, with a Razorback cluster.
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Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #60 on: July 10, 2012, 01:19:07 AM »

Wasn't there an issue a few years ago that some TVs/ Electronic home equipment in cities would emit the proper signals causing a search?
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SarDragon
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« Reply #61 on: July 10, 2012, 01:50:56 AM »

It still happens, but since the satellites aren't listening, and the signals were mostly carrier-only, we don't get to chase them very much any more.
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Dave Bowles
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bosshawk
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« Reply #62 on: July 10, 2012, 02:09:50 AM »

Dave: can't say how often it happens, but I had one last Saturday.  Was flying along the Sierra foothills in Northern CA, when I heard an ELT on 121.5.  That was around 0800 and I duly reported it to ATC. Around 1630 that same day, as I passed that same area, there was still an ELT going off.  Told ATC about it and they replied "roger, that one has been reported numerous times".  I guess that the battery would eventually give out.

BTW: there is a CAP Sq within a short driving distance from where the thing was sounding off.
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Paul M. Reed
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SarDragon
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« Reply #63 on: July 10, 2012, 02:31:15 AM »

These junk signals don't quite sound like regular ELT signals, and usually don't have any modulation at all. But the satellites would still pick them up, because they sensed the 121.5 carrier.

What you heard was likely a real unit that nobody decided to look for.
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Dave Bowles
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a2capt
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« Reply #64 on: July 10, 2012, 03:03:01 AM »

On one of my searches it turned out to be a VCR causing it, when the thing was pulled from the wall it was't making the L-Per go nuts.

Another.. the mainstream story:

From CNN.com (via the Wayback Machine)

A more comical slapstick look, from the comments and the venue, Slashdot.
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Phil Hirons, Jr.
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« Reply #65 on: July 10, 2012, 11:00:59 AM »

In the start of June 2012 RIWG got called to locate an unregistered 406 beacon. Apparently in Tiverton RI there is a facility that tests / sells emergency equipment and the offending beacon was one of 600, still in the packaging, in their warehouse. 

--edited for typo
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a2capt
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« Reply #66 on: July 10, 2012, 11:31:44 AM »

* If you edit within a couple minutes of posting, it does not show the timestamp of edit.
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sarmed1
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« Reply #67 on: August 03, 2012, 12:22:07 PM »

There are a few that stand out for me over the years;

Reading, PA:  Searched all of the likely areas in the county (the area I was in at the time was ringed by mountains, so signals reflected a lot of the time)  We finally narrowed down the signal down to a regular automotive salvage yard.  When we questioned them offhandedly about airplane parts, they informed us they infact just moved a large haul of old parts from the front of the yard to the back of the yard yesterday, and proceded to show us where they were.  Expecting a pile of misc parts there were actually 5 Shorts 360's that had been scrapped out of the local airport.  Just the fuselages, stacked 2 wide and 2/3 high.  We called the local company at the airport that flew them and asked where the ELT was, of course its in the rear cargo compartment under the tail...... after some carefull looking its not in the bottom 2; its the top one.  We climbed up and roped into the cargo compartment, removed the ELT and shut it  off.  Apparently someone had missed removing it when they stripped all of the avionics out, and when the front end loader stacked them up it was enough of a jarring to activate the beacon.

mk
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Mark Kleibscheidel
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cpyahoo
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« Reply #68 on: November 23, 2012, 10:39:40 AM »

Man... these just keep getting better!  These stories are great!
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Stonewall
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« Reply #69 on: November 23, 2012, 10:52:54 AM »

Sometime in the early to mid-90s in Washington DC (DCWG).  We're tracking a signal throughout the District and and narrow it down to a specific dock that has about 40 boats in slips.  It's roughtly 0200 and while we've got our Jetstreams pinging to the immediate area, as we approach the dock the signal actually gets weaker.

Hmmm...as we approach the boats, which have EPIRBs, why would the signal become weaker?

Out next thought is that a boat owner removed his EPIRB and it's in a car in a nearby parking lot, but again, as we leave the parking area we're sitting in, the signal weakens. 

Finally, sitting there, we notice that the building we're parked in front of is a USCG building.  As we approach the front doors the signal grows stronger.  BINGO!

We call the emergency number on the glass doors and a petty officer shows up 30 minutes later to help locate the signal.

It was in some sort of boater safety room.  A box of 12 brand new EPIRBS that had been openened, closed back up, and set aside, UPSIDE DOWN!  All 12 were going off.
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Danger
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« Reply #70 on: November 23, 2012, 11:25:25 AM »

At our squadron, a guy was driving around and an old ELT was in his car, and went off driving around. Imagine trying to find a mobile ELT! And they got it too.
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« Reply #71 on: November 23, 2012, 11:26:23 AM »

I was periperhally involved in a search for a moving ELT between Pontiac, Michigan & Ann Arbor, Michigan in the mid-1990s (they had ground teams on it, and an aircraft, but our involvement was to monitor what was going on and be ready to put our ground team into play in the event this search went on into the night).

The signal was in the vicinity of Pontiac Airport, and one of the ground teams was enroute to to PTK.  They stopped near the airport to do a DF sweep and got nothing.  Full-up ramp check, nada.  AFRCC calls with hits near Ann Arbor.  They do the same thing down there. Nothing.  Whoops, its between Ann Arbor & PTK.  Saddle back up, head that way.

This goes on for awhile, until somehow it was determined that the ELT was in a helicopter flying back and forth between a location near Ann Arbor and PTK.  The Dominos Pizza helicopter. 

No, they did not get free pizza out of the deal.

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Darin Ninness, Lt Col, CAP
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Stonewall
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« Reply #72 on: November 23, 2012, 11:40:25 AM »

Another one I like to tell...and proves why having a radio watch is important (before cell phones were popular).

Squadron et up for 2 days of training out near Shenandoah Mountains and camped out near a high peak so we could maintain comms with the wing (no one had personal cell phones at the time).  After a long hard day of training, we bed down with a schedule for radio watch.  As we drift off, we are awakened by a cadet saying "there's a mission, there's a mission"!!!

Naturally, it couldn't be close by.  We were in western Virginia and got the call to head towards Silver Spring Maryland.

We're on the road in 30 minutes, a squadron van and a POV (Cherokee).  Long story short, we found it at a home in a residential neighborhood at about 0200. 

The guy bought something that looked cool at a garage sale for $5 earlier in the day and threw it in the back of his van.  It was a personal ELT.  He didn't know it was turned on and was excited that it worked. 
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NIN
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« Reply #73 on: November 23, 2012, 11:52:02 AM »

We held a group or wing training exercise at a local "metropark" one year outside of Detroit.   A buddy of mine was the OIC and I took charge of the target team.

So we're discussing cool places to put the ELT and target, and I point out a small beach and parking area on the topo map. "How about I put the team at the back of the parking lot here, to the north?"  The OIC agrees it will be a great place.

We get to the area to setup and discover that the area to the back of the parking lot really isn't all that suitable. I make a command decision to move the target team to an area about 25-50 yards off to the side of the driveway into the parking lot, probably 100 yards or more south of where I had told the OIC I was going to put the target.   

(To put this in perspective:  from where the driveway joined the parking lot at the south end, the ELT would have originally been straight ahead about 350 ft at the north end of the parking lot.  Instead, we're about 25-50 yard to the east of the point where the driveway joined the parking lot. And we have a great overwatch position to observe the approach of the team from the driveway/parking lot, plus we're under some small power lines that would have created a hell of a lot of weird interference.)

We're lounging around, waiting for the GT to get their heads out and find the ELT, when finally a GT vehicle pulls in and stops at the juncture of the driveway and parking lot.  I'm thinking "We'll be found in the next 5-10 minutes" as I'm observing the team get out, setup the ELPER, etc, thru my binoculars.

My friend, the OIC, is with this ground team. Matter of fact, it looks like he's put himself in charge of this one. (there were 3-4 ground teams from around the group or wing at this exercise)

So the cadet with the DF does his sweeps, and I can see he's getting strong signal indications pointing to the east, toward where we have the ELT setup, not to the north, where I said I'd setup.

The OIC comes over and points to the north. Oh, wait a minute.  My friend is one of those "Take no prisoners, I need to show everybody how @##$% awesome I am all the time" kinds of guys.

I can imagine the conversation goes like this:

"But, sir, the signal is coming from this direction."

"There is no way that the signal is coming from that direction. Try DFing in this direction. "

So the kid makes some DF sweeps, and every time I see he's getting better signal from the east.

"You must be doing something wrong, cadet.  The signal has to be coming from THIS direction.."

The GT all troop off to the northern end of the parking lot at the direction of my friend, and I'm thinking "You know, thats kind of a bogus thing to do. You're the OIC of the activity, and we had a discussion about where the ELT was going to be placed, and now you're trying to lead the ground team to it not based on the evidence at hand, but on your prior knowledge that no other team has."

So after about 45 minutes, they come thrashing back thru the woods between the far end of the parking lot and our location, discover our crash scene and start their actions-on.

Later, the OIC pulls me aside and upbraids me for not putting the ELT where I said I was going to put it.

I asked him "Are you pissed because I moved it on my own authority based on the conditions present, or are you pissed  because it wasn't where you thought it was supposed to be and it made you look bad in front of the ground team?"

(as you can imagine, that question just made him more angry...)

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Darin Ninness, Lt Col, CAP
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The contents of this post are Copyright © 2017 by NIN. All rights are reserved. Specific permission is given to quote this post here on CAP-Talk only.
JROB
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« Reply #74 on: November 26, 2012, 11:06:02 AM »

It was a midnight callout report of an ELT going off at MEM. The 406 beacon was registered to a Northwest Airlines plane that was in a maintenance facility in California. The first thing we think is okay, this has to be wrong. We get to the airport at about 0130 we start the ELT sweep near the GPS coordinates provided which was a FedEx holding facility...nothing. So we push west to the terminal area and we get a signal coming from the FedEx ramp. We think well this is going to suck it's being shipped.  The signal takes us near the Air National Guard facility, which is not the best place to be at 0400 in the morning being that the duty sergeant is a bit cranky and the contract security guys are a bit jumpy. After explaining what an ELT is to a E-7, two E-3's, and three private security guards we are politely told that if a plane has crashed on the ramp and they didn't know about it, it would be easier to explain to the base commander why they didn't let us on versus why they let us on base. Did I mention this was a few days after Bin Laden was killed? Probably not the best time to roll up to a base wearing camouflage with teenagers who look like they just stepped off a PJ recruiting poster. Finally we end up near the postal facility at the airport, we get a very strong signal and then we see a FedEx plane takeoff and our signal starts to fade....perfect. So ends the story of the midnight hunt.
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Maj. Jason Robinson
Squadron Commander, Desoto Composite Squadron
SER-MS-096

"If you are in trouble anywhere in the world, an airplane can fly over and drop flowers, but a helicopter can land and save your life"-Igor Sikorsky
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