Monday, June 04, 2007

"Search Beast"

Carl gave me a new knickname last night: Search Beast. Alice and I went over to Palo Alto Airport at 2 AM to find an emergency beacon signal somewhere around Palo Alto and Moffet Field in Mountain View. The Cospas-Sarsat satellite system had been picking up the signal for more than 5 hours. Alice and Carl got lucky. The offending beacon was at Palo Alto Airport in a Citabria. It was most likley a TSO 91A model since those trigger a flashing light on the cockpit instrument panel when activated and that Citabria had such a flashing light.
Carl, Alice, and I drove all around the airport with direction finding (DF) gear and then walked around the Citabria once we suspected it and verified for sure that was the one. Here's a picture of Carl standing right beside the beacon's antena inside the airplane to see the signal strength and direction shifts on the DF gear. Bad form Carl says to wake up an aircraft owner to shut off a beacon if it's not the right one! Back in bed before 5 AM.
Alice wondered if I as a canine can hear beacons' 121.5 MHz signals. I don't think so, but I can ESP who might have made a hard landing and set off the beacon. Waves of embarassment I can detect. They linger sometimes around airplanes.