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Steve Fossett missing - Final NTSB Report

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Steve Fossett missing - Final NTSB Report

Old 6th Sep 2007, 14:39
  #61 (permalink)  
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"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."
Did he really say that? It seems a ridiculous suggestion, aren't google earth/maps aerial images often several years old?
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 15:03
  #62 (permalink)  
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MichaelJP, that was my first reaction too, but a more complete news item explained that Google Earth of course has close contacts with the satellite image provider, so they would be one of the first people to turn to for up-to-date pictures.
However, the hi-tech survey plane they've brought in sounds like a better bet.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 15:39
  #63 (permalink)  
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When Internet pioneer James Gray was lost at sea this February, Google used their satellite expertise to help in the (sadly unsuccessful) search. I imagine it's much easier to use satellite imaging to find a sailboat at sea than a light aircraft in rugged terrain.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 16:02
  #64 (permalink)  
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Still confused why he should be looking for a lake bed when a tried and tested track is already available at Bonaville. Apart from well supervised from the ground solo flights, what other solo flying has he done?
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 16:07
  #65 (permalink)  
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you may have to look through the various press releases that are linked. One mentioned in some detail why he was looking for other sites.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 20:24
  #66 (permalink)  
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However, the hi-tech survey plane they've brought in sounds like a better bet.
You don't need hi-tech you need lots of eyes looking out of lots of windows.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 20:54
  #67 (permalink)  
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Ever tried to survey hundreds of square miles by eye for a needle in a haystack?
The "hi-tech" aircraft already seems to have found another wreck, so the technology seems to work.
There are limits to what the Mk. 1 eyeball can achieve.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 00:39
  #68 (permalink)  
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The same principal applies to satellite technology, if you know where your target is you can keep the satellite above it and take as many pictures as you want.
If you don't have an exact position, you rely on the machine spotting something during it's sweep over the ground and then have to wait until it covers the area again.
It could take months for a satellite to spot such a target.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 02:40
  #69 (permalink)  
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From Avweb today. A bit off thread, but you would think that Steve would have the best. My experience when we had a 406 beacon accidently fire it took no more than 5 minutes before flight service were on the phone making enquiries. Can't get better satellite sevice than that.

NTSB Wants Better ELTs in Aircraft

The FAA should require that all emergency locator transmitters in general aviation aircraft must be upgraded, the NTSB said (PDF) on Wednesday. The newer 406 MHz transmitters have significant advantages, the NTSB says, including longer range, better accuracy, and the ability to encode identification information, so rescuers know exactly what airplane is in distress. The safety board cites two accidents: In one airplane equipped with an older ELT, 16 hours elapsed before rescuers found the survivors, and when an airplane with a 406 MHz ELT crashed, the wreckage was located within an hour. The FAA should require an upgrade to the 406 MHz units before February 2009, when a change in satellite services will make the older units even less reliable, the NTSB says.

"This [change in service] will necessitate U.S. search and rescue authorities reverting to older, less effective search methods and techniques, which would greatly decrease the likelihood of finding downed aircraft in a timely manner," the NTSB said. AOPA has opposed mandatory ELT upgrades, citing costs. The new units can cost from $1,000 to $1,500. The 406 MHz units activate in about 81 to 83 percent of crashes. The older units, which operate on the 121.5 MHz frequency, have an activation rate of 73 percent in actual crashes, AOPA said.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 04:47
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Have they found anything yet...?
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 07:07
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kiwi chick: it's pretty much on the news here all the time and so far nothing relevant has been found. The latest is that the civil air patrol now have four "credible" leads which they are following up, but they haven't given any details of what those leads are.

niknak: I don't understand your comment about keeping a satellite above a spot. You do realise that would be difficult to do unless the satellite is already in geosynchronous orbit, don't you? In that case it's unlikely to be able to do much to help with the search.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 08:33
  #72 (permalink)  
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Reading a little on the Decathlon history of airframe problems leaves one feeling a little uneasy ..


Despite being an aerobatic aircraft, this is a 1980 Decathlon, and a hired one at that. I wonder just what the history of this aircraft is? Accidents? Upgrades? .. Does this particular aircraft still wear wooden spars?? ..
Did the last pilot who rented, throw a show, and pull 6G's, and overstress the wings?? ..

After 4 full days, going on 5 .. and with 14 aircraft looking for him, including FLIR equipped aircraft .. you'd expect SOME result. They can find a wreck that happened 20 years ago? .. but not Fossett?

I fear the worst, and that a wing separated, and he speared in, leaving only a tiny footprint.

If it happened over a ravine, as is entirely possible, it may take 10 years to find the remains.
There are plenty of parallels, with wrecks not being found for years afterwards.

My personal opinion is that small aircraft, flying low and slow are more likely to have success, at finding wreckage, than anything else.

Despite high tech equipment, Eyeball Mk 1 is connected to Brain Mk 1, which has more computing ability than anything electronic .. and often a glimpse is all that's needed for Brain Mk 1, to say, "backtrack and just check that out".

Electronics will examine the narrow parameters that were inputted .. and if they don't fit, they move on .. possibly abandoning good clues.

The last possibility, is the one the search crews now seem to be thinking about seriously .. an underwater search. Despite there being little water out there .. there's always that million-to-one chance, that the plane went down, right over the only patch of water for miles.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 10:28
  #73 (permalink)  
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Ever tried to survey hundreds of square miles by eye for a needle in a haystack?
The "hi-tech" aircraft already seems to have found another wreck, so the technology seems to work.
There are limits to what the Mk. 1 eyeball can achieve.
Yep, spent the last twenty years doing that in one way or another, hence my comment.

It's been a long time now but I do hope he's okay and hope that the CAP get something soon.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 12:24
  #74 (permalink)  
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Operated LAX-LHR last night with a Gorman departure and Northeasterly routing which took us right over the search area. Made sure that 121.5 was turned up to max and did spend a lot of time looking - well you never know.

Unless you have seen northern Nevada from the air, it might be difficult to see why the search has failed so far. For those that are familiar you know it's very rugged, desolate country - see Google Earth and look around Tonapah for example.

I hope they find Steve soon (or at least what happened) It won't be much fun stuck in the hills waiting for help..............
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 15:35
  #75 (permalink)  
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Anyone know the latest on the search???
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 17:41
  #76 (permalink)  
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You don't need hi-tech you need lots of eyes looking out of lots of windows.
Hi tech sure does help. Our Aero Club is part of the Norwegian CAP (RMK: Different system), and I've done SAR training as an observer in a Cessna.
You don't understand how much you miss before you try it.

Ex: We did a exercise where 2 dummys in blue coveralls was placed sitting in a alpine area of 3 x 3 nm. We (pilot and observer) missed both.
Even flying at 500ft AGL as slow as safely possible, it was amazing how hard it was to spot the dummys when the instructior pointed them out to us. (And they where sitting on high ground, without vegitation.

Pilots on this forum mock hi-wiz wests and it's use at the airfield. I kind of agree, but I carry one in the aircraft, if only to have it available post forced landing!

Looks bleak for Mr Fosset

Last edited by M609; 7th Sep 2007 at 23:10.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 17:53
  #77 (permalink)  
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Don't get me wrong, I'd want everything available thrown at it if I was stuck out there; it's just that people overlook the effectiveness of a properly executed visual search.

I've flown over the area a couple of times and know that it's no fun, anything that can bring this to a conclusion should be used it's just that these days the technological solution is used to the exclusion of the most sophisticated search system ever designed - your eye/brain.

I've no idea how many millions of square miles I've searched but I know that in the daytime I've found more people by looking out of the window than any other method.

It's a terrible area to search - and a worse one to be stuck in - so I wish CAP and their partners the best of luck with whatever search technique they try.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 17:57
  #78 (permalink)  
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Some misinformation on ELTs.

On an N-reg you need to carry an ELT activated automatically by a forward-impact G force.

Typically these are 121.50 + 243MHz, with the 243 used for satellite based location fixing and the 121.5 used for close-in VDF.

More recent ELTs are 121.50 + 406MHz which offer much better satellite position fixing, but the 121.5 signal is still useful only for close-in VDF i.e. about 10-20nm away.

A few private planes have a GPS link which stores the last GPS fix and sends it off in the 406MHz transmission to the satellite(s). These are more pricey and not many people have them.

Of course it all assumes the ELT doesn't get smashed in the impact, or sinks below water.

Not many European pilots have the fixed 406MHz ELTs because of the ripoff charges (EASA, or DER costs if N-reg) for getting the installations approved. I was quoted 2000 just for the paperwork, so didn't bother with 406MHz and have a couple of 406MHz portable ones instead.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 18:38
  #79 (permalink)  
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I was at the search HQ yesterday`

I went down to Minden airport (KMEV) and met up with a friend doing a story on the search for mr. Fossett.

Quite a bit of machinery involved in search. Conflicting information on whether he had the ELT watch with him or not.

A wreck (Not FOSSETT) was found that was some dozens of years old and has provided some answers to a missing plane and man for his family...this wreck has gone unnoticed for dozens of years...that is what the terrain is like. my friend went up and took footage that might be available at cnn.com, it was shown this morning in the US around 6:40 am pacific time...in case you want to see what the terrain is like.

IF YOU ARE FLYING near there make sure to "break squelch"on 121.5...that is turn off the squelch or adjust it to hear the white noise or static...this will make it more sensitive to an ELT. questions, PM me.
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Old 8th Sep 2007, 02:52
  #80 (permalink)  
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Seeing the aircraft was probably N240R, 8KCAB-180, belonging to the flying M ranch, I would believe the condition of the aircraft would not be an issue. ATC radar coverage in the area 12,000 feet and below is poor (at best) or none (mostly), so even if he did turn on his transponder it probably never got high enough to be tracked so any data reduction of center radar would probably not be useful. If he did have his transponder on and went north and got high enough, Fallon Naval Air Station radar may have tracked him. But I am not sure how good their radar data reduction tools are. I find it strange that no one had any idea of which set of dry lakes he was going to look at. Seems to me he would have been looking over sectionals and topo's before the flight getting an idea of were to start. Or at least what direction from the ranch to start from. And like others have stated the area is desolate and rugged, it will be very difficult to see the wreckage from the air.
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