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Flight training requires student pilots to learn about a myriad of things, avionics, aerodynamics, and a long list of federal regulations including ELT testing and deployment. Knowing the frequency of ELT testing and passing the written test questions prior to receiving my private pilot license was about all I ever expected to know about ELTs.
On a beautiful summer day in August 2013 I had just finished having a $100 hamburger with some fellow female pilots at Gillespie County Airport in Fredricksburg, Tx. We had each flown in and were about to head back to our respective home airports. I invited the group to follow me to see our new hangar being built at KRYW Rusty Allen Airport in Lago Vista, Texas before they returned home. KRYW is a beautiful airstrip that sits atop a plateau in the Hill Country, just north of Austin, Texas. It is notorious for turbulent winds at both ends of the airstrip due to hangars and trees being close to the runway.
Although I had just returned from a 3,000 nm cross country women’s air race in my 1984 Cessna 182 RG, I had not landed at Rusty Allen more than a couple of times. With the faster plane, I entered the traffic pattern, slowed down, configured the plane for landing, dropped the gear and touched down. So far picture perfect until…. Most aviation accidents occur due to a chain of events. Left uncorrected, each link in the chain leads to the next error. The minute the wheels touched down, a gust of wind hit from the right and caused the plane to bounce. The first link. Not wanting to damage my plane and potentially losing control by going off the runway, I decided to do a “go around”. Link number two. Pushing the throttle for full power in my 235hp flying machine that was configured for landing, caused the nose to shoot straight up catching me off guard and causing the plane to stall, losing lift. Several more links to the chain caused the plane to drop the left wing hitting the ground after going thru two large trees on the only vacant lot between two hangars.
After knocking the entire tail off the plane, it came to an abrupt stop when it nosed down in the ground. Realizing I was alive and in one piece, I quickly exited the mangled plane from the passenger seat, as the left door was crushed and fuel was pouring down the window. Fortunately, the battery was thrown from the plane and resting 25 feet away, preventing a fire. The ELT was intact, resting in its tray in the tail a few feet from the fuselage. It did exactly what it was supposed to do and exactly what I learned it would do in my flight training! My husband, who was 65 miles away, received a call from NOAA alerting him of the ELT activation. Additionally, the secondary contact was called and help was on the way. Your ME406 ELT worked exactly as advertised and had this happened in an even more remote location, the results would have been the same.
Thank you ACR!
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