Survivor Club

Rescue Map

Managed to make an underwater egress without injury

Name Lou Nathanson
Product Name PLB-200, ME406
Date of Rescue 09/01/2013
Saved By Alaska State Troopers (Justin McGuinness)
Beacon Purchased From Eagle Enterprises (PLB) , Pacific Coast Avionics (ELT)
Lives Saved 2

On September 1st, my wife and I departed Kotzebue AK on a caribou hunting trip in the Noatak River drainage of the Brooks Range. We arrived over the Anisak River at about 3 pm, and began looking for a gravel bar suitable for landing. At about 3:30 pm, I attempted to land on a gravel bar, but ran off the end, into the river and flipped over. We both managed to make an underwater egress without injury, but most of our gear was wet, the instrument panel (with radios) was underwater, our handheld VHF radio was underwater, and our satellite phone was soaked and useless.

I managed to find our PLB-200 floating in the cockpit, and activated it. I also reached underwater and pressed the remote activation switch for the ME406 ELT. The ELT activated by means of the battery in the switch, even though the aircraft master switch was off, and the remote switch and its battery were submerged. I later determined that both 406 signals were received by the Elmendorf AFB Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage, and the troopers were able to fly directly to us from Kotzebue. We were rescued just before 8 pm, preventing a night out with limited gear. It's likely that we would have been out overnight if a search had to have been carried out based on our flight plan alone (which of necessity did not list a specific destination).

We'd both like to thank ACR/Artex for these well-designed and reliable products.

We've had the PLB for years, through one battery replacement cycle. I have to admit that I was skeptical: Pulling the little thing out of the water, pushing a couple of buttons, and setting it out on a gravel bar 140 miles from nowhere -- was it really going to do anything? Apparently yes! Thanks!