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Steve Fossett missing - Final NTSB Report

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Steve Fossett missing - Final NTSB Report

Old 5th Sep 2007, 21:00
  #41 (permalink)  
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All the routine maintenance checks of ELTs I've been involved with included a hard manual deceleration to prove the inertia switch as well as local tower confirmation that it had been activated on the frequency. Never known one to fail but there's always a first time...
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Old 5th Sep 2007, 21:02
  #42 (permalink)  
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.....if the ELT can't be picked up, that indicates either that it is/was defective, or that the craft is sitting in some ravine somewhere.
Or if the ELT is underwater. But I don't know how much little water there is there.

In New Brunswick, Canada there was a small plane crash in a remote area for which the ELT turned-on 1 year later. They presume that possibly an animal had touched it somehow.

A commercial flight at -15 C, with ice on wings during TO, crashed into the St-Lawrence river; the ELT was under only a few feet of water. That seriously hampered emergency response and resulted in deaths.

It is not rare to hear that an ELT does not work as advertised.

I remember one activating on touch-down and jamming my conversation with the tower; of course during my early solo days .
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Old 5th Sep 2007, 21:03
  #43 (permalink)  
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ELT signals are picked-up by passing Satellites and many aircrafts listen to 121.5 newer models (EPIRB type) will give more info (Coordinates and registry info such as owner etc...). No ELT means: A non functioning or non installed unit. Exhausted or deflective Batt. Unit Destroyed unit upon impact fire or water immersion etc... OR... Someone turned it off... Conspiracy theories anyone ?
Kidnapping, UFOS ...
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Old 5th Sep 2007, 21:20
  #44 (permalink)  
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Conspiracy theories anyone ?
No flight plan, no radio contact, no ELT........
Don't we all wish he's gone off to a top-secret rendez-vous with his latest girl friend? Or landed in Area 51?

But let's admit it. Things do NOT look good.
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Old 5th Sep 2007, 22:45
  #45 (permalink)  
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A standard ELT works as advertised only 10 to 20 percent of the time. Fact.
Recommend that if you are going down, turn on the ELT (if you have a remote switch of course as well as squawk Emergency on the Transponder. Don't rely on the g switch.
Buy a portable PLB. Much better.
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Old 5th Sep 2007, 22:48
  #46 (permalink)  
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They have a 75% failure rate!
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 02:27
  #47 (permalink)  
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standard ELT works as advertised only 10 to 20 percent of the time
Too true Boof. Don't know about the percentage but it is all too depressing to read of the number of accidents where prompt action may have saved peoples lives but the antenna to ELT connection got busted in the crash.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 02:52
  #48 (permalink)  
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advanced C130 aircraft with special IR and cameras are part of the search.

one article indicates that the plane had survival gear aboard.

as to ELT's...if the plane were out in the open and it was on, they would have heard it

but if he was in a mountain pass...maybe not. terrain is different out here.

many sightings of old wrecks, one copter went out to check on one over a year old.

in the past, airliners didn't require ELT's as long as dispatch and radar were used to keep track of planes. even domestic USA we used to have to send position reports to dispatch a few years ago.

while area 51 is within the range of the plane, it might be unlikely that he went that far...but you never know.

if he was just using pilotage for nav, it would be easy to get lost.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 04:13
  #49 (permalink)  
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I bought an antenna from Radio Shack that fits the ELT in my airplane and in rental airplanes (the old square units) so that if the airplane is upside down or the antenna is broken off I can remove the ELT and connect my antenna. use it as a portable ELT, move it away from the airplane etc. The antenna cost me $15 and it lives in my survival vest (a fishing vest with lots of pockets for matches, candles, hand warmers and the like since I fly mainly in Alaska. Also have a mozzie net since in two hours Alaskan mozzies can take half of the total amount of blood in a human body). Even if it is too hot (temps over 5 C) and I cannot stand to wear the vest it sits beside me whenever I fly).
When brushing snow off the airplane take care not to break the fixed antenna.
I am in the CAP and spend a fair bit of time looking for ELTs, most of which are accidentally set off or that are so old the switch corrodes and turns the unit on. Some are used by hunter guides (they have dozens of them in jackets for their customers) and we have regular problems with those guys throwing their jackets in a pickup, setting off one or two, then driving hundreds of miles along the highways, CAP 172 in hot pursuit. Biggest problem though is in the antennas, which have corrosion at the attach point and are rarely cleaned or serviced. I doubt if Steve has that type of problem. I am surprised he does not have a PLB in his pocket.
In 2009 they are shutting down the satellite that looks after 121.5 ELTs and only the new PLBs will be supported.
Sad situation. Not nice when nothing is found, it leaves family members always wondering and they say that is worse than getting confirmation of the loss. Still it is too early to give up.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 05:00
  #50 (permalink)  

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Remember from a survival course, we had to prioritize various bits of kit/ provisions etc. as to their value. (ELT not on this list). The expert opinion listed a signalling mirror as no.1 (water being no.2).
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 06:06
  #51 (permalink)  
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It must be very tempting to have the convenience of a simple single-engine plane, even in the mountains.
Maybe Steve's chances at high density altitudes would have been much better in an empty King Air C-90, or a Pilatus s.e. turboprop (the Air Force trains in the T-6 II), which should be quite affordable for him.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 06:30
  #52 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Ignition Override
Maybe Steve's chances at high density altitudes would have been much better in an empty King Air C-90, or a Pilatus s.e. turboprop
(Flatlanders ) A Decathlon is OK, especially when solo. Lots of lift, flies slow, turns on a dime, you can see out of both sides down, and land it most anywhere that looks flat.

I only flew one once, from the back seat. Flared 3 feet too high and spent the next few seconds anticipating gravel rash.

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Old 6th Sep 2007, 06:36
  #53 (permalink)  
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The single vs 2 argument works only if you assume an aircraft failure. What about hitting the ground whilst trying to survey it from the air? A medical emergency, etc, etc, etc.

A standard ELT works as advertised only 10 to 20 percent of the time. Fact
If he is alive, there is a fair chance the ELT would have been manually operated and every ELT that I have used has worked fine under those circumstances. The odds do not look good.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 06:54
  #54 (permalink)  
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ELT watch

you must be functioning to activate any kind of ELT..unfortunately.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 07:18
  #55 (permalink)  
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At a difficult time like this it's hard to laugh but somehow I doubt Steve has landed in cyberspace...


"British tycoon Richard Branson, who partnered Fossett on earlier attempts to circle the globe in a balloon, said he had contacted Internet search giants Google to help with the search."
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 07:29
  #56 (permalink)  
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cwatters, from the same article:

Later Wednesday Ryan revealed that rescuers had believed they had found Ryan's plane after spotting wreckage, only to be disappointed when it turned out that the debris was from an old crash site.

"We thought we had it nailed," Ryan said. "Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of many dozen unmapped wreck sites from previous years.
It would be ironic if they find other planes that have gone missing over the years.

They are looking in a huge area, including mountains. I hope it ends well.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 07:54
  #57 (permalink)  

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If he's alive he can active the ELT.. he suppose to have 2 of them, one on board and one on his wrist

On CNN international http://edition.cnn.com/ there is a vote:

do you think Steve Fosset is still alive

Yes 35%
No 65%

Let's hope he's ok and has enough water to his disposal...
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 10:46
  #58 (permalink)  
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Civil Air Patrol expands search for Steve Fossett

Calif. Wing members, ARCHER-equipped Utah Wing aircraft join mission

September 05, 2007

NEVADA -- The U.S. Civil Air Patrol has expanded its search for famed aviator Steve Fossett, bringing in cutting-edge technology -- the organization's ARCHER system, which stands for Airborne Real-Time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance -- and members of the Utah and California wings to join Nevada Wing members involved in the mission.
An ARCHER-equipped Gipplsand GA-8 Airvan was dispatched from the Utah Wingin the continuing search for Fossett, last seen about 9 a.m. Monday when he took off from the Flying M Ranch's private airstrip near Yerington, Nev., in a Citabria Super Decathalon single-engine aircraft with the tail number N240R.

During search and rescue missions, CAP can apply ARCHER using an on-board computer to take a spectral picture of a particular object, relying on light reflected from the object. That information is then relayed, by e-mail and satellite phone using CAP's satellite-transmitted digital-imaging system, to units on the ground as they conduct their search.

A set of parameters describing the target's color and shape is programmed into the system, and through a sophisticated algorithm, the ARCHER system is able to differentiate a potential target from background clutter. The nation's first fully operational, large-scale hyperspectral imaging system, ARCHER can identify a target using as little as 10 percent of the target's characteristics.

Also this morning, more than 60 members of CAP's California Wing -- equipped with 17 of their aircraft -- began searching about a 1,000-square-mile-area over the California state line from Bridgeport, Calif., about 80 miles south of Lake Tahoe, Nev., to Bishop, Calif., about 20 miles south of Bridgeport.

Searchers were first notified late Sept. 3 that Fossett had left the private airstrip about 9 a.m. and was planning to return by noon in order to leave the area. A formal search began at 6 p.m. that evening, as six CAP aircraft were launched with highly trained, well-equipped crews of three each in order to do sophisticated "grid" searches of hundreds of square miles of terrain in areas where the pilot may have been.

On Sept. 4, searchers accumulated over 35 air hours of flying time in up to 14 aircraft, both planes and helicopters, from CAP, the Nevada Air Guard and the California Highway Patrol. Four CAP ground search teams were activated from Lyon and Mineral counties in Nevada, as well as Nevada and Mono counties in California.
The search area included an area roughly 600 square miles long, extending from the Yerington area to Bishop, Calif., and about 200 miles wide with a western boundary following the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. http://www.cap.gov/
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 12:30
  #59 (permalink)  
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I realise, of course, that it might be seen as impertinent for a non-pilot to say anything.

The biggest mistakes are often the smallest ones. Whatever the outcome of the search, it will help to remind everyone to file a flight plan ...
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 13:03
  #60 (permalink)  
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Flight plan would help? Not too sure in this particular case.

As said, Mr. Fossett was flying to scout out dry lakebeds for a land-speed record attempt. By definition, that means just flying about until you find something, then circling around to check details etc. All this in a vast area of uninhabited land (desert?). His flight plan would not have contained anything useful in the "route" field. Not more than what we currently know already from friends who reported him missing.

Flight plans in the context of search and rescue are useful if you intend to fly a specific route, and do not deviate from it without informing ATC. But if you make sure that someone on the ground (in the UK context this is called a "responsible person") has the route information instead and knows your callsign, take-off time, EET and endurance, a flight plan does not offer much more information.

In the US, you can get "flight following" whether you filed a flight plan or not, and that's a far better investment, safety-wise. But from what I hear about the area, flight following might not be available there.
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