ELT Homes In On Rescuers

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It's not often an ELT homes in on its would-be rescuers but that's the position Canadian search-and-rescue volunteers found themselves in last week. Members of the Regina, Saskatchewan chapter of the Civilian Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) hopped in a Cessna 172 to help a Canadian Forces search-and-rescue C-130 pinpoint the location of an ELT signal being broadcast from somewhere nearby. They quickly determined the signal was coming from a malfunctioning or accidentally activated ELT in the northern part of the city and returned to the airport to start a ground search. The Hercules went back to base. It was when the CASARA members were setting up their ground-based homing equipment that the story got more interesting.

The signal kept getting stronger and was off the scale when a courier truck pulled up to the avionics shop behind the hangar where the CASARA folks were tuning up their equipment. The ELT was inside a box dropped at the shop and contained an older-style ELT that lacked an on-off switch. The battery hadn't been removed and some rough handling triggered the signal. "We're effective here," CASARA spokesman Frank Schuurmans said. "The ELTs come to us."