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The Science Of Survival


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Aviation History Month – my story by:ARTEX Director of Sales, Jeffery Geraci

In the spirit of Aviation History Month Here is my aviation story by: ARTEX Director of Sales, Jeffery Geraci

With November being Aviation History Month, I had the honor of presenting the history of ELT and ARTEX to my fellow employees.  As I researched and prepared the briefing, it prompted reflection on my own personal aviation history.  Attaining flight is such an intriguing combination of physics that completely infected my imagination.  My journey started as many young boys did, with a glider and then a rubber band powered model.  Back in the 60s the Guillows Company provided many youngsters the ability to build and launch their flying dreams.  My first powered craft was Piper Cub.  In its maiden flight, a shirtless 10 year old found that speed and ground proximity were a disastrous combination for a balsa wood airframe.

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First Piper Cub flight, 1970 – Farmington Hills, MI

Having witnessed a flying machine of my own construction take flight, my passion for flight would lead to larger aircraft with gas engines and radio controls.  My first radio controlled aircraft was a “Falcon 56” and it was a beautiful yet forgiving aircraft to fly.  At 13 years of age I was all in for flight.  As the Falcon flew over me, I looked up and said to myself, how do I get in the cockpit?  My career path was set and in just 4 more years, I would be an aviator.

Falcon 56 Airframe, 1972 – Farmington Hills, MIteen JG

Falcon 56 first flight, 1973 – Farmington Hills, MI

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My parents signed the early entry form required for a 17 year old to join the military.  The selection process for enlisted aircrew was competitive but due to my exceptional vision and depth perception, my dream was realized.  I was selected for the KC-135 Tanker boom operator position.  Boom operators maneuver a flying boom to “connect” with a trailing aircraft and perform in-flight refueling. Before an aircrew can attend training for the specific type of aircraft, the selectee must attend survival schools.  Water, prisoner of war, ground and Arctic survival schools were required. In addition to learning the skills of survival, the schools provided another means of eliminating the less dedicated.  In 1978, during my water survival school students would float in Biscayne Bay, Florida for hours to simulate the ocean bailout.  We used flares, dye and strobe lights to signal each other.  My first experience with ACR Electronics Inc. was utilizing a very well made bright orange strobe light.   Little did realize that ACR and I would cross paths again 35 years later.

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August 1979 publication of Airman Magazine picturing water survival training

After completion of the survival schools my first ride in a tanker took place at Castle Air Force base, Merced California in 1979.  We flew many missions refueling all USAF aircraft types.  I was photographed in Airman Magazine, August of 1979 for a C-130 mission.

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August 1979 publication of Airman Magazine, C 130 Mission

My first base posting was Wurtsmith AFB, Oscoda Michigan.  Although we rotated aircraft often, number 38038 was a frequent selection for our training.  This particular aircraft was a newer  KC-135 manufactured in late 1960.  Most tankers were manufactured in 1957-59.  I was 19 years old the first time I flew on this aircraft. We are both 57 now and I am not sure who will live longer, 38038 or me!   I still recall the sound of the J-57s with water injection.  The sound in the cockpit was deafening as the pilot pushed the throttles forward.  I still recall the feeling of speed as we raced toward the end of the runway.  The pilot would call out “S-1” which meant we passed the speed threshold of not being able to stop, we were dedicated to takeoff.  I flew in the jump seat often and had the best view of the cockpit being in between both pilots

In 1983, I became an instructor Boom operator.  Part of the training was to fly co-pilot for 2 touch and go landings just in case there was a need to fill in.  I had acquired 25 hours in a Cessna 172 but the tanker flew like nothing I had experienced.  I will never forget the takeoff sequence of pushing up the engines and steering with the rudders after 80 knots.  Being seated up front made the speed more intense as we powered past 140 knots.  I pulled back, assumed a steady 15 degrees of climb, got the gear and flaps up.  Just like the Falcon 56 model used to climb, but I was inside this bird.

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USAF 38038 with Jeff Geraci onboard – October 1980

I completed 2 tours in the USAF but did not make it a career.  The lure of private sector income and running my own business moved me on.  I always looked up when I heard an aircraft overhead.  I know how that feels I thought to myself.

My aviation career would be revived in 2000 as I sold my business and took a position with a Michigan company called Advanced Data Research (ADR).  Based upon a commercial device, we developed the first version of the electronic flight bag.  Our customers were corporate flight departments worldwide.  I was back in cockpits helping to determine mounting locations for the computers.

Fast forward to 2013 and good friend, Mike Schmidt calls me and asks what I am doing.  Mike and I worked at the flight bag company and recently had taken position at ACR Electronics in Fort Lauderdale Florida.  Mike helped me secure a position with ACR in September of 2013.

Speaking of history, the mission at ACR is to make sure pilots and their occupants do not become history.   ACR and ARTEX share a long and important lineage of making a difference to those in trouble.

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ARTEX History Presentation November 2017, Fort Lauderdale, FL

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Introducing the New ARTEX ELT 1000 Emergency Locator Transmitter with Built-In GPS Navigational Interface

Fort Lauderdale, FL – ACR Electronics, Inc. announces today that the all-new ELT 1000 (Emergency Locator Transmitter) has received its Cospas-Sarsat and FAA approvals and is now available for sale. The ARTEX ELT 1000 is competitively priced and designed with multiple installation configurations to reduce overall installation cost.

The state of the art electronics maximize frequency stability and power while incorporating a new, built-in GPS navigational interface. Including GPS data in the emergency transmission allows Search and Rescue personnel to know your location within 100 meters in less than a minute. Designed to accommodate multiple installation configurations, the new ELT 1000 is a quick, easy and affordable retrofit for obsolete 121.5 MHz ELTs.

ELT100_ISO_2Built under the exacting standards of AS9100C quality certification, the ELT 1000 exceeds all government and regulatory standards including the latest FAA guidelines with its new robust stainless steel mounting strap.

The ARTEX ELT 1000 features and specifications are listed below:

  • Quick and easy retrofit for general aviation aircraft
  • Single antenna output for emergency transmission on both 406 MHz (Cospas-Sarsat) and 121.5 MHz frequencies (local Search & Rescue)
  • Enhanced positional accuracy with a built-in GPS interface that does not require aircraft power
  • Encoded digital message broadcasts aircraft identification/registration and owner/emergency contact details
  • New stainless steel mounting strap for increased stability that complies with the most current FAA guidelines
  • Simple self-testing from the cockpit. When combined with 406Test.com, the self-test will provide SMS/e-mail confirmation within seconds that the ELT signal reached the satellites successfully
  • New hermetically sealed G-Switch for increased reliability

ARTEX designs and manufactures an array of ELT’s, battery packs and ELT accessories. ARTEX products serve a wide category of aircrafts ranging from general aviation to the world’s leading airframe manufacturers, large commercial airlines and government aircraft.

406Link.com ACR Electronic’s Advanced Satellite Testing System

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ACR/ARTEX is proud to bring you 406Link.com, the first and only advanced satellite testing system used to receive self test notifications (SMS/Email) from your ACR Personal Locator Beacon, EPIRB, or Artex 406 MHz ELT. This optional subscription service is designed to enhance the functionality of your ACR or ARTEX 406 MHz beacon and provides you and your loved ones with the peace of mind of receiving your satellite test message directly on your cell phone or email.

Once you subscribe, a successful self-test will trigger an email and SMS text message notification to you and/or your loved ones. By choosing the Plus plan, you will also be able to have a customized message sent to your list of contacts. In addition, when conducting a GPS self-test, your actual location will appear on a map and be sent to your contacts along with your message. You and your loved ones will breathe easier knowing that your beacon is working properly should you ever need to use it in an emergency.

Try our Free Trial and use the service free of charge for two days (no credit card or automatic renewal required). You will quickly realize the amazing value and ease of use of 406Link.


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Cautionary advice when buying beacons and survival gear online

5 quick buying tips NOT to miss

when buying a beacon from an online auction or personal on line listing!

  1. Know what beacon is right for the type of activity you enjoy doing. Read the guide below. (Boaters = EPIRB, Pilots = ELT, etc.)
  2. Find out if the beacon is Brand New and Unregistered or Used (Registered to previous owner).  If the beacon is used and has been previously registered, the current owner will need to contact NOAA (in the USA) and notify them to cancel their registration so that the new owner can properly register it.
  3. If you are buying and EPIRB, Personal Locator Beacon or ELT that has a dedicated Lithium battery, ask for the battery expiration date.  Know how many years are remaining on the battery before you buy it.
  4. Ask the seller for the country code in which the beacon is programmed.  If the beacon is programmed for the United States and you live in Australia or a country other than the United States, your beacon will need to be reprogrammed for your country (a reprogramming fee will apply) before you can register it.
  5. Have a question?? – Contact the manufacturer before you purchase.

Understanding the Difference between Safety/Signaling and Survival Beacons

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) – For BoatersACR GlobalFix iPRO EPIRB with built in GPS, GPS Interface and Digital Display
An EPIRB is a critical piece of last-resort lifesaving gear on your boat when you are out of range of a VHF radio, smartphone or other means of communication. EPIRBs are small radio transmitters, connected to a global government-run satellite network (Cospas-Sarsat), which is used worldwide to alert Search and Rescue agencies in the event of a dire emergency. Used only when all other means of rescue or communication have failed, these emergency beacons can be activated if your boat is in danger of sinking, or if you have a life-threatening accident or medical emergency.

EPIRBs are required to activate and transmit when they are removed from their brackets and immersed in water or manually activated in/out of the bracket. Category I brackets will automatically deploy the beacon when submerged between 3′ and 14′, while Category II brackets need to have the beacon released manually.

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) – For any outdoor enthusiastACR ResQLink Personal Locator Beacon with built in GPS
Personal Locator Beacons, which use the same frequency and technology as an EPIRB, can be carried with you just about anywhere. They provide the same worldwide coverage as EPIRBs, and can rescue hunters, hikers, kayakers, climbers, pilots, boaters and most any outdoor enthusiast. PLBs are different from EPIRBs in some important ways. Their battery life (24hr. minimum transmit time) is often half that of an EPIRB. PLBs are not required to float or have a strobe light (but many do), and are manually deployed and activated. Like 406 MHz EPIRBs, PLBs have an additional 121.5MHz homing signal to help planes, helicopters and other searchers find you.

Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELTs) – For AircraftARTEX ME406 Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
An Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) is an aircraft distress beacon that can be manually or automatically activated to transmit a 406 MHz emergency signal to the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system. ELTs that activate automatically use a “G-Switch” (gravity switch) that triggers the ELT when it senses that a crash has occurred. With ELTs, Search and Rescue teams may more easily pin-point the exact location of a downed aircraft. Section 91.207 of the Federal Aviation Regulations states that no person, as well as Part 121 operators and operations governed by Part 135, may operate a U.S. registered civil aircraft unless an approved automatic type emergency locator transmitter is attached to the aircraft. Similar regulations are established by aviation authorities throughout the world.

As of 2009, traditional 121.5 MHz ELTs are no longer monitored by satellite. The system has been replaced by a far more powerful and robust system operating on 406 MHz. When you upgrade your ELT to 406 MHz, you will have peace of mind knowing you can be found quickly in the event of an emergency or unplanned landing. If your aircraft currently has an older 121.5 MHz ELT it’s still important to have an upgraded 406 MHz ELT that can automatically transmit a distress signal with your location. Without upgrading your ELT, it can take days or sometimes weeks to locate a crash scene. Upgrading your ELT means rescuers will know within minutes that you’re in distress, who you are, and exactly where you’re located. This will drastically increase your chances of survival.

Why a 406 MHz Beacon is Your Best Last Chance

The biggest difference between an EPIRB/Personal Locator Beacon/ELT and other signaling devices is the built in redundancy required by Search and Rescue agencies to be included inside 406 MHz beacons before they can be approved for sale.
Main Frequency: 406 MHz, this dedicated Search and Rescue frequency is transmitted to the Cospas-Sarsat Satellites with your beacons Unique Identification Number which links you and your beacon together (if properly registered).
GPS: beacons with a built in GPS provide the exact search radius
121.5 MHz homing frequency: provides Search and Rescue forces with another tool to home in on your exact location.

Additional Benefits: 406 MHz beacons are regulated and approved worldwide by the Search and Rescue community before they can ever be offered for sale. These very strict regulations require an independent test lab to validate that the beacons meet the stringent requirements. These distress beacons are a directly link to Search and Rescue forces worldwide, there is no monthly subscription fees, no cost for activating and being rescued and no third party call center required to forward your distress signal onto the appropriate Search and Rescue Agencies.

Satellite Emergency Notification Devices (SEND) – For outdoor enthusiast
This is a relatively new category of distress beacons that have just hit the market in the past few years. While they have some very popular features, it is important to understand some of their limitations when it comes to Search and Rescue. The main thing to know is the lack of redundancy, most SEND devices rely solely on having a GPS position to transmit your position. If the device is unable to acquire your GPS coordinates because of heavy tree canopy or severe weather, Search and Rescue will not know where to look for you until the beacon is able to provide this information. SEND Devices also use commercial satellites such as iridium or GlobalStar, this requires an annual subscription to use. Forget to renew your subscription and your beacon will not transmit your emergency distress signal. Finally, because these are commercial satellites, the distress signal is first received by a third party call center who then must forward it on to Search and Rescue forces and be able to provide them with all of your vital information.

Understanding the Pro’s and Con’s of different Survival Communication Devices

Product Type Benefits Limitations
EPIRBs
  • Direct link to Search and Rescue forces world wide
  • No subscription fees
  • Built-in Redundancy
  •  406 MHz
  • GPS (Optional)
  • 121.5 Homing
    Limited non-emergency communications (Only ACR beacons can transmit a message through the        satellites to cell phones/email using their 406Link.com optional subscription).
Personal Locator Beacons
  • Direct link to Search and Rescue forces world wide
  • No subscription fees
  • Built-in Redundancy
  • 406 MHz
  • GPS (Optional)
  • 121.5 Homing
  • Limited non-emergency communications (Only ACR beacons can transmit a message through the        satellites to cell phones/email using their 406Link.com optional subscription).
Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT)
  • Direct link to Search and Rescue forces world wide
  • No subscription fees
  • Built-in Redundancy
  • 406 MHz
  • GPS (Optional)
  • 121.5 Homing
  • Limited non-emergency communications (Only ARTEX ELTs can transmit a message through the        satellites to cell phones/email using their 406Link.com optional subscription).
Cell Phones
  • Most people commonly have on them at all times
  • Dead Battery when you need it the most
  • Limited Coverage
  • Not Rugged or Waterproof
  • They rely on you to tell Search and Rescue where you are
Satellite Phones
  • Voice communication outside of standard cell phone ranges
  • Dead Battery when you need it the most.
  • Poor satellite reception
  • Costly subscription fees
  • Not Rugged or Waterproof
  • They rely on you to tell Search and Rescue where you are.
SEND Devices (SPOT, InReach)
  • Non-Emergency Communications
  • Tracking
  • SOS functions
  • Weak frequency
  • Low Power
  • No Redundancy
  • Costly subscription fees
  • Commercial satellites
  • 3rd party call centers
GPS Receivers
  • Tracking
  • Tells you where you are
  • GPS receivers tell You where you are, not Search and Rescue
  • Low Power Level
  • Poor Satellite Reception

How to register

You may register by visiting the SARSAT Beacon Registration page.

There is no charge for this service. IT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE.

For more information see the NOAA SARSAT Homepage.


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The Anatomy of a Rescue

Cospas Sarsat - International satellite system

Learn how a rescue works.

1. Distressed mariner/outdoor adventurer/pilot activates beacon (EPIRB, PLB, ELT).

2. Beacon transmits a 406 MHz emergency message containing your Unique Identifier Number (UIN) to the LEOSAR (polar orbiting) and GEOSAR* (geostationary) satellite systems.

3. The satellites relay the 406 MHz emergency message to a ground station called the Local User Terminal (LUT). The LUT calculates the location of the signal by measuring the Doppler shift caused by the relative movement between the satellite and the beacon and forwards the location to the Mission Control Center (MCC).

4. The MCC continues to receive information from additional satellite passes and further refines the beacon position (2.3 nm search radius). An alert message is generated that is combined with the registration information from the database and is forwarded to the appropriate Rescue Coordination Center (RCC).

5. The RCC makes contact with the persons listed in the database to verify the existence of an emergency and gathers additional information about the beacon users. The RCC will dispatch the closest, capable Search and Rescue (SAR) forces.

6. Local SAR forces launch a rescue mission and use the 121.5 MHz homing signal to pinpoint the beacon.

* On average, worldwide, this notification (steps 2 through 5) take up to one hour for non-GPS beacons. For self-locating beacons that provide GPS position data in their first transmissions, the search radius is reduced to .05 nm (100 m) and the notification can take as little as three minutes. (Data provided by Cospas-Sarsat.)

About the Cospas-Sarsat Search and Rescue System

Orbiting high overhead every minute of the day is a worldwide network of polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites. Together with Russia’s Cospas spacecraft, they make up the high-tech international Search and Rescue Satellite-Aided Tracking System known as Cospas-Sarsat.

Cospas-Sarsat has been credited with nearly 30,000 rescues worldwide. The system relies on signals received on the 406 MHz frequency to pinpoint position and speed rescuers to the scene of an emergency on land or at sea.

In fact, the more reliable, digital 406 MHz frequency has become the de facto internationally recognized distress frequency. Using the 406 MHz frequency, modern signaling devices can quickly beam GPS LAT/LON coordinates to orbiting satellites. This frequency also allows a position fix through Doppler shift to acquire a location even when GPS can’t.

As of February 1, 2009, satellite processing of distress signals from the older 121.5 and 243 MHz emergency beacons was terminated worldwide due to unreliability and false alarms. When a 406 MHz beacon signal is received, search and rescue personnel can retrieve information from a registration database.

This includes the beacon owner’s contact information, emergency contact information and details regarding the specific trip plan and any medical conditions of the owner or members in the party. Having this information allows the Coast Guard, or other rescue personnel, to respond appropriately. NOAA, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, is strongly advising all mariners, aviators and individuals using 121.5/243 MHz emergency beacons to make the switch to 406 MHz in order to take full advantage of the Sarsat system.

Cospas-Sarsat is maintained and operated by governments all over the world, thus there is no subscription fee required for owning a 406 MHz EPIRB, ELT or Personal Locator Beacon.

Tags: Cospas Sarsat, 406 MHz Rescue, Search and Rescue Process, Coast Guard Rescue, How a rescue works, Anatomy of a rescue, EPIRB, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, Personal Locator Beacon, PLB, Emergency Locator Transmitter, ELT


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ACR AquaLink PLB Still Functioning After 16 Days Underwater

James Kastner recovered this ACR AquaLink PLB from his boat “Chompers” after the vessel sank during Hurricane Sandy. Despite being submerged inside the boat for 16 days, the AquaLink worked flawlessly after James turned it on and ran the self test. James said he was “amazed, but not surprised” and he thanked ACR “for making the best gear on earth!!” Thanks, James – this story is a testament to the great employees who make the ACR/Artex products!


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The Mystery of the Giant Eyeball Finally Solved…??

This is the giant mystery eyeball that washed ashore near Pompano Beach, FL last week....

The top trending topics on the Internet the past few days have centered around the stories of two orbs – one celestial (did you hear about the skydiver who was hoping to safely land on the blue and green orb we live on?) and the other, well, of unknown origin. It’s the story of a giant, mysterious eyeball that washed up on the shore in Pompano Beach, FL. Experts from all over weighed in, and most guessed that it was likely from a giant squid, a large billfish or a really big shark (megalodons are still extinct, right?). It now appears the mystery is solved. After several days of careful study, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission believes they know which animal the eyeball belongs to:

After examining an eye found on a south Florida beach this week, researchers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) believe the specimen came from a swordfish. Genetic testing will be done to confirm the identification.

“Experts on site and remotely have viewed and analyzed the eye, and based on its color, size and structure, along with the presence of bone around it, we believe the eye came from a swordfish,” said Joan Herrera, curator of collections at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. “Based on straight-line cuts visible around the eye, we believe it was removed by a fisherman and discarded.”

The approximately softball-size eye was recovered by a citizen in Pompano Beach on Wednesday. FWC staff received the eye later that day. Swordfish are commonly fished in the Florida Straits offshore of south Florida at this time of year.

A highly migratory fish, swordfish can be found from the surface to as deep as 2,000 feet. Swordfish in the Atlantic can reach a maximum size of over 1,100 pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Swordfish feed on a wide variety of fish and invertebrates.

…and this is a close-up photo of a large swordfish. Mystery solved?

Was this your guess??