Personal Locator Beacon


Published: June - 1998

If you have a wilderness hunt scheduled this year in Alaska, you may want to look into buying or renting what's called a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). We have that suggestion from Alaska writer, Tony Route, who describes these devices as follows:

"If you hunt with a good outfitter he will have his planes and boats equipped with some kind of locator device - either an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT). But what do you do if you get hurt or lost on an on-your-own or individually guided hunt in a remote area? Traditional methods of signaling for help - like building a smoky fire, sending up a flare or fiddling with a signal mirror - don't do much good if you are out in the middle of nowhere and no one is around to see your signals. Two-way VHF radios only work if a plane is in sight and your radio is tuned to the same frequency as the plane's; cellular phones do not work in many wilderness areas either.

The solution is to carry a PLB, such as the Satfind-406 Pocket PLB, made by Northern Airborne Technology. This device communicates with an orbiting satellite system that is monitored by several countries. These countries are bound by international treaty to respond to distress calls relayed to them by the satellites. Furthermore, each individual PLB transmits a unique serial number. When the unit is activated, the folks who are monitoring the satellites - NOAA in the United States - contact the person who is listed by the registered owner as having full information on the owner's general whereabouts. This information, combined with the ability of rescue teams to locate the beacon to within one to three miles, helps shorten response times.

The price for this peace of mind and possible lifesaver is $1,300 if purchased outright, or $105 for a seven-day period if rented from an agent such as Shane Langland at Eagle Enterprises. Langland says he knows of approximately 80 cases since 1991 in........(continued)

 
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