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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Tall Tales  |  Topic: Christmas Mission - Christmission
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♠SARKID♠
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,834
Unit: GLR-WI-002

Timmerman Composite Squadron - WIWG - CAP
« on: December 26, 2007, 02:00:47 AM »

Today...was an odd day.

I woke up this morning to a call from a SM in my squadron.  He's one of those people that I would never expect to get a call from unless he needs bail money or we have a mission.  Fortunately, he didn't need bail; unfortunately, he had a mission call up on Christmas morning.

AFRCC had been getting hits on a signal emanating from the La Crosse, WI area (south west WI, right on the Mississippi R)  It was a no tone signal on 121.5.  What was odd is that it turned on and off at a regular times throughout the day.  It would generally turn off in the wee hours of the morning and for a few hours during the day, at somewhat regular times.  Instantly we thought that it was something on a timer that was malfunctioning.

  The local squadron had no luck with finding the signal a few days ago, so we got dispatched from Milwaukee (quite literally, the other side of the state).  So, me and the 3 squadron/wing ES buffs drove 3hrs out to the area to take our stab at it.

Coming to the area where we had all of our hits, we drove to a local aeropark (for those who don't know, an aeropark is where people actually live at an airport on either side of a runway.  Most if not all are pilots and have hangars that taxi directly to the runway.  The runway quite literally is their "back-driveway")  As we drove past a couple of houses we got a sudden hum on the L-Per that we linked to a couple of garage/hanger structures.  It was crystal clear and sounded purely electrical, no sweep.

We drove out to some nearby bluffs to take some readings.  Everything was sporadic in direction and we actually lost the signal on 121.5 and it jumped to .6 and .775.  We drove back to the airport (its dark by now) and went to the hangars where we heard the hum.  To our half expectance it was off by this time of day.  We figured, "Hey, maybe its something that the hangar owners have on a timer or something that cycles.  Maybe lights, a furnace, etc."  We knocked on what we figured to be the owner's door (its nice when its a pilot community and they know what the heck you're talking about).  The owner took us into his hangar, fllipped on all the lights, we checked everything, but couldn't get the tone back.  He suggested we check the neighboring hangar but we we're ready to give up.  But, in his insistence, we decided "Eh, it can't hurt."  So he let us in to the neighbor's hangar.

I nearly dropped the L-Per in surprise.  Jaws hit the floor.

When I walked through the hangar door, L-Per with ducky in hand, we instantly heard a faint yet distinct sweep of an ELT tone!  After checking the two planes in the hangar, we narrowed it to a beautiful homebuilt.  The neighbor said it could go from La Crosse, WI to Florida in 6 hours!  And, it had an awesome paint job - The Road Runner's head with flames  >:D.

The batteries on the ELT were hardcore dead.  Even 15 feet away in the hangar, there were spots that we couldn't receive the signal.  That, and it didn't transmit on 121.5, only on the bleedovers (common for dead ELTs to change frequency).  What we figured out is that it transmitted only at certain times of day because of the temperature.  When it got cold at night and late afternoon, the batteries would cool and shut down.  But as things warmed up later in the day, the batteries would get warmer and have enough juice to ping SARSAT!

All in all, it was about a 12 hour mission from departure to return.  The worst part is that we had to miss time with the family on XMas morning, but hey, thats the downside of working in the field.  Personally, I thrive on irony and thought the whole thing was great   ;D!  But in combination of a XMas mission, and a bizarre search, this is definitely going down as an odd mission.  (Not bad for my first ELT search IMO!)
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           Capt. Dan Turkal
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                WI-002/CC
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Pylon
Administrator

Posts: 5,163
Unit: NER-NH-038

Michael Kieloch, Marketing Communications & PR Leadership
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2007, 02:07:32 AM »

Hey, Bravo Zulu to all of you for taking time out of your Christmas mornings to track down the emergency beacon!   
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Michael F. Kieloch, Maj, CAP
Concord Composite Squadron, NH       
♠SARKID♠
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,834
Unit: GLR-WI-002

Timmerman Composite Squadron - WIWG - CAP
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2007, 02:18:48 AM »

Thanks!

I found some info on the plane, its very nice!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van%27s_Aircraft_RV-9
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           Capt. Dan Turkal
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                WI-002/CC
.
Pylon
Administrator

Posts: 5,163
Unit: NER-NH-038

Michael Kieloch, Marketing Communications & PR Leadership
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2007, 02:39:33 AM »

Thanks!

I found some info on the plane, its very nice!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van%27s_Aircraft_RV-9

Yeah, the RV-9 is a cool aircraft.  There's one in the hangar attached to our meeting space.
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Michael F. Kieloch, Maj, CAP
Concord Composite Squadron, NH       
shorning
Resident Philosopher

Posts: 973

« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2007, 03:51:52 AM »

That's not a fun part of the state to track signals.  BTDT a few times.  And not just for ELTs.
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♠SARKID♠
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,834
Unit: GLR-WI-002

Timmerman Composite Squadron - WIWG - CAP
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2007, 04:11:13 AM »

That's not a fun part of the state to track signals.  BTDT a few times.  And not just for ELTs.


Very true.  Those bluffs can be hell on trying to DF a signal.  Its especially tricky because many of them dont have access roads.
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           Capt. Dan Turkal
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                WI-002/CC
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JAFO78
Seasoned Member

Posts: 388

« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2007, 08:06:51 AM »

Odd that they sent you all the way from MKE when there is 6 squadrons in the MSP area plus 1 in RST and another across the river in Red Wing MN, with MN Wing HQ also not to far away in the St. Paul area.

But hey you guys did a great job... :clap: :clap:
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JAFO
stillamarine
400,000th Post Author
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 833
Unit: SER-AL-134

« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2007, 11:10:05 AM »

So as I sat around waiting for the weather to clear a bit Christmas morning, so we could fly our daily fire patrol, I got a call from our IC that AFRCC had 2 hits very similar to the one you spoke of.

So up we went headed east (I looked to see if I could see Santa headed home but no joy!), IVO of Eglin AFB we got a good signal on the Becker. As we overflew the airfield multiple times we kept getting the flip right around the base flying club's ramp.

So we set down on a cold and dreary Christmas morning and taxi'd over to the club's ramp. As we turned to shut down, the becker was actually pointing to our 3 oclock, towards some maint hangars.

We hoped out with our handy dandy LPER and checked the ramp. Everything kept pointing back at the hangars really. We kept getting the same odd direction thing but for the most part towards the hangars. So we got ahold of base ops and they drove us over there. We get to the area and poof big noise coming from the hangar area. BUT being the holiday there was no way to get in to the hangar, and the base ops guy didn't want to call anyone in.

So make a call to the IC, he calls AFRCC and we get that magical release to go home!

Amazingly 25 mins after take off at Eglin we touched down at PNS.

I think we had a little of that dust Santa sprinkles on his reindeer!
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Tim Gardiner, 1st LT, CAP

USMC AD 1996-2001
USMCR    2001-2005  Admiral, Great State of Nebraska Navy  MS, MO, UDF
tim.gardiner@gmail.com
♠SARKID♠
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,834
Unit: GLR-WI-002

Timmerman Composite Squadron - WIWG - CAP
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2007, 01:22:16 PM »

Odd that they sent you all the way from MKE when there is 6 squadrons in the MSP area plus 1 in RST and another across the river in Red Wing MN, with MN Wing HQ also not to far away in the St. Paul area.

But hey you guys did a great job... :clap: :clap:

It was Christmas, and we're the craziest mofos in the wing.  That, and our squadron commander was IC. And this is one that needed some experienced people to know what the heck was going on with the signal and my squadron has all the buffs.  I was more or less along for the ride, but I still got some good training and learned a few things which is the best you can get on a non-distress.
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           Capt. Dan Turkal
..
                WI-002/CC
.
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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Tall Tales  |  Topic: Christmas Mission - Christmission
 


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