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SPOt, PLB, 406 ELT....What are you using?

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  • SPOt, PLB, 406 ELT....What are you using?

    With so many high profile accidents in AK this summer, there has been much discussion about devices to be sure that you are located and quickly. There are still many planes missing here in the lower 48 that have gone missing without a trace. I recall several years ago now, a Leer jet missed approach in Lebanon, New Hamphire and it took a year to find.

    We have a SPOT tracking device which has worked nicely here in the lower 48. It may not be perfect...but I think it gives you a good idea of where to start looking without the need for manually activating.

    I like the PLB idea (although I don't have one). Seems a good add on so that if you have to leave the plane you have something to provide a signal.

    I've heard that some of the products don't work when submerged or if the antenna is broken during impact. This makes me feel as though there needs to be some kind of redundancy here.

    What are your thoughts and what are you using?

    Laura

  • #2
    I have a 406 ELT and a PLB.

    The 406 ELT is helpful in that it is designed to activate automatically if I am unable to get to it. The PLB is helpful in that it is waterproof and can be carried with me if I should decide to leave the wreckage, or if it should sink and I swim to shore.

    The Spot seems like it might be a competitive alternative to a PLB, both of which require manual activation by the user. The advantage of the PLB is that the signal reliably goes straight to the agency that is in a position to do something about it and once you own it, there are no annual fees. The advantage of the SPOT is that it goes to a person you designate (as long as your annual fee is paid up), who hopefully is in a position to do something about it. I'm not sure about signal reliability - the Spot website mentions that it needs an unobstructed view of the sky and some of the spot cookie-crumb trails I have seen miss the occasional crumb.

    The Spot's tracking function seems like it would be a great feature, but it requires manual activation and charged batteries. It would be great if there was a power-jack option on the Spot, so you could plug it in to the aircraft electrics and have it default to tracking mode. This would allow it to be kept full time in the aircraft and be switched on automatically with the Master. However, I contacted Spot about a year ago and they indicated that they do not have any plans to introduce this feature.

    Dave
    Last edited by dforster; 11-15-2010, 04:35 PM.

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    • #3
      It seems as if a lot of the alternatives to a PLB have hefty annual fees to maintain--which just begs for not doing it. With ARC's new ResQLink, the purchase price is much more reasonable, and it's permanent until the battery needs replacing. I bought one at OSH, and it's a nice little package. I also went online and bought a 3 year "I'm OK" data link package for another 100 bucks, which will be nice for notifying the lady of the house when I get somewhere when there's no cell phone coverage.

      Cary
      I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth...put out my hand, and touched the face of God. J.G. Magee Jr.

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      • #4
        http://pilotshq.com/product_info.php?products_id=217

        i picked up one of these for $230 at SNF. small and portable. very happy with it.

        no subscription needed!!!!!!!
        Last edited by turbo; 08-14-2011, 10:40 AM.
        Ed DArcy 'Turbo' RV6-A 4,500 hrs / R-44 1,200 hrs / GYRO sold / helicycle 60 hrs.
        Stuart, Fl / S Windsor, CT / Virgin Gorda, BVI,

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        • #5
          I agree that it would be helpful for SPOT to offer an option to plug in. That being said, I do like that you have a trail to follow. Sometimes you just cant hit the button. It is nice to know that there is a starting point that is close to where you are. We have seen how well SPOT has worked on more than one occasion...one with significant injuries. It worked beautifully.

          My brother is finishing a solo cross country run to raise awareness for Alzheimers. (ALZRUN.org) He has about 150 miles left. We outfitted him with a SPOT. I can not tell you the hours that many of us spent watching his progress. It helped us to get out to him to run with him for a while, it helped people to reach out in support, it helped to arrange lodging for him along his route so that he didn't have to camp....it would have been unbearable for us without it. There were many days that he did not have cell service....but he hit the "I'm ok" feature and we could all see that he was finished running for the day and that all was well. No call needed.

          I believe that with SPOT there is an SOS feature that goes to an agency rather than the person you've selected. The agency will contact your contact person also.

          The yearly cost of the subscription range is between $120 and $170 depending on the service level that you choose. I consider that to be a small cost considering what it at stake.

          Laura

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          • #6
            I have a SPOT that I have had for a few years, have never had to use it thankfully. I have it mounted on the shoulder of my Mustang inflatable vest so it is pointing some what towards the sky, that way I have it with me at al times if something were to happen . It seems to work OK but it does sometimes miss a point from time to time but I do like the idea of having it with me at all times. I always wonder if the SPOT centre will follow through and contact SAR as they are suppose to.

            Bob

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            • #7
              bob, welcome to the SPA forum. just saw your post pop up. safety first.

              were are you and what are you flying? img04272.jpg
              Ed DArcy 'Turbo' RV6-A 4,500 hrs / R-44 1,200 hrs / GYRO sold / helicycle 60 hrs.
              Stuart, Fl / S Windsor, CT / Virgin Gorda, BVI,

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              • #8
                I carry a SPOT in my nomex float vest. But mine is the first generation and I have had problems with it since day one. SOMETIMES it transmits and sometimes it does not...

                And when it does not, I have no way of knowing....I like to send ( I am OK ) messages to my spouse and friends ( the local CAP unit) just so they know I have stopped at a certain lake to wait out bad weather.

                Right now I would say this particular SPOT has a 25% to 35% failure rate.

                A friend of mine uses a DeLorme GPS with two way sat coms built in.... While more expensive than my SPOT, at least it works all the time. And he can send complex messages.

                A lot of folks up here are doing the Spider Track thing....
                Dragonfly Aero
                Seaplane Instruction
                Homer, Alaska

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                • #9
                  I have used a Spot from their introduction and now have the latest version. I fly 1000-1200 miles north of Chicago every year and the Spot works perfectly. The new version is automatically activated to track if the Spot is powered. Manually activating the SOS button calls the search and rescue organization almost immediately. A friend activated his SOS signal 3 years ago in the far north and Canadian Search and Rescue flew over his location within 2 hours.

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                  • #10
                    Wow a thread back from the dead:
                    Since this thread went stale, DeLorme In reach has been bought out by GARMIN and the new higher prices reflect no competition. The In -Reach types still continue to be popular here in Alaska since they also act as a GPS and a Sat-Link text message machine. My piece of junk Spot has been benched after failing to work one too many times.
                    Dragonfly Aero
                    Seaplane Instruction
                    Homer, Alaska

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                    • #11
                      Three new posts in the same day here - Amazing
                      Robert P. Kittine, Jr. - West Nyack Aviation, L.L.C. - New York

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                      • #12
                        I just started receiving post notifications again last night. After not having seen any for a long time.
                        Dragonfly Aero
                        Seaplane Instruction
                        Homer, Alaska

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                        • #13
                          I think the majority of the activity is on the Facebook Account. I miss this forum being active and useful.

                          Bob
                          Robert P. Kittine, Jr. - West Nyack Aviation, L.L.C. - New York

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                          • #14
                            Yes indeed. Member Forums tend to only be used by people with a real interest in the subject matter. Face Book tends to be used by 14 year-olds in their mommy's basement.
                            Dragonfly Aero
                            Seaplane Instruction
                            Homer, Alaska

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