Don't throw away your old 121.5-only beacon

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 08:38
ThreadID: 64910 Views:3940 Replies:4 FollowUps:5
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SMH - lost Bushwalkers

Here are quotes from this article -

"Emergency services will bolster search efforts for two men missing on a canyoning trip in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
Ground and air searches, including help from specially-trained police, failed to find the men and was postponed on late Wednesday afternoon due to bad light.
Police said a "larger'' search, using more resources and covering a greater area, would continue from 8am on Thursday.

On Wednesday afternoon police and the State Emergency Service conducted a search by ground and air for a 43-year-old man who wandered off from a bushwalking group and became lost near Cascade Falls at Leura.
The man was found and reunited with his companions.

Police were also called to Wentworth Falls about 8.30pm on Wednesday by two German tourists who had lost their bearings.
The women, aged 20 and 22, who were not prepared for overnight conditions, were located at about 11pm at Lindemans Pass.

Police have issued a reminder to bushwalkers to be properly equipped - including carrying an emergency beacon"

If these people had been using a GPS equipped EPIRB, the authorities would have known within minutes who was lost and known their position within several metres (provided they weren't in a canyon)

Several years ago two local women went for a short walk in Ku-rin-gai Chase National Park 30km north of Hornsby - after two days the Police abandoned the search, assuming the women didn't want to be found. Next day a boatie heard some faint calls for help - it was the two women in a bad way. An EPIRB would have saved days of misery for them and their families.

Even if these incidents happened after the 121.5 satellites closed down in February and they were carrying the older 121.5-only beacon, the search helicopters would have tracked their location within minutes, even if they were in a deep canyon or heavy tree cover.

Don't throw away your old 121.5-only beacon - it's nowhere near as good as a 406 beacon, but it's so much better than no beacon at all.


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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 09:46

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 09:46
G'day Mike,

I know there have been a couple of posts on this topic and as I have 2 if these "old" devices and planning on a new one soon I have been toying with possibility of taking both on my travels. My personal small unit would certainly be no huge weight disadvantage and my simple reasoning is that should I end up in a serious enough situation to need to use one then maybe I'd be better served by having both screaming help for me!

Kind regards
AnswerID: 343189

Follow Up By: howie - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 21:38

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 21:38
there's a thought, set off the 406 beacon.
then when the battery dies, set off one of the old 121.5 beacons in the hope the 406 has started some action.

also, to avoid confusing COSPAS/SARSAT and direction finding equipement, avoid activating two or more beacons within 1 nautical mile of each other.

also, carry enough household aluminum foil to make a 150cm square and place the beacon in the middle, aerial pointing up, it can increase the effective range by 50%. (tape the foil to the beacon till needed).
this is an earth mat, any reflective metal surface available will do.
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Reply By: Member - Footloose - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 09:58

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 09:58
Good advice, Mike. I guess it's a matter of an old beacon being better than no beacon to save your bacon, eh ?
AnswerID: 343190

Follow Up By: Member - Willie , Sydney. - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 16:57

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 16:57
Hamming it up Footy .
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 17:50

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 17:50
Just being a chauvinist pig. Willie.
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 18:01

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 18:01
Oops, I meant me , not you :)))
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Reply By: Member - Mike DID - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 10:43

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 10:43
I have two 121.5 Beacons. One stays in my bushwalking pack and one stays in the vehicle. A don't have any remote area trips planned that will be out of range of commercial flight routes, so I won't be upgrading to a 406 beacon for a while. I have a satphone for urgent non-emergency calls.

I had a very vivid lesson in having backups for emergency equipment when I did my Deckhand (GPH) Training. We pushed the Self-Inflating raft into the pool and tugged on the handline. There was the expected bang and the covers of the raft separated, but then there was a lot of hissing and bubbling but not much inflating of the raft.

When the hissing stopped, we pulled the raft on land and opened it up. The CO2 line had cracked near the bottle, allowing all the gas to escape before there was any useful inflation of the raft.

Imagine the look on the faces of the survivors of a sinking yacht, if this was the only liferaft on board !!!
AnswerID: 343198

Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 15:18

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 15:18
When I was doing my survival at sea training the instructor pulled the cord on a 40 man liferaft in a small classroom then laughed as we all climbed the walls to get away from it - they had repacked the big canister with a 6 man raft.

It iwas still very impressive watching it blow up.

We then got dumped in one out at sea an allowed to get seasick before being winched out by a helo and bought back to shore.

All great fun.

Pete
Any mug can be uncomfortable out bush

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Reply By: howie - Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 21:20

Thursday, Jan 08, 2009 at 21:20
i agree it's probably worth keeping the 121.5 if you must, but people must realise the possible consequences.
a couple of posts seem to suggest that if you set off the 121.5, all will ok, as a passing jet will report it.
a "passing' jet at about 30,000 might hear the beacon, which at that height, could narrow it down to 40,000 sq miles.
that is, if you happen to be near a airline route, and if the pilot has that frequency on. (lot of 'ifs')
the only way i would use a 121.5 beacon now is if (hopefully you have done the right thing and told people your itinerary) you are reported late, and the search and rescue know roughly where you might be.
since the beacon's battery could only last for 24 hrs, i would try and wait until i thought the SAR was operational.
i remind people, the 121.5 signal will NOT be processed by the satellite from feb.
yes, the 121.5 element can used for the final homing in, but if nobody knows you are in trouble.......
the change has been planned for a long time now, and i understand the price for a 406 beacon may not be affordable to all, but please understand your decision.
AnswerID: 343295

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