Above: SPOT comes in a carrying case with a cutout to access its
keys. A carabiner lets you clip it to a belt loop, and a Velcro strap
(not shown) lets you attach it to your arm. For optimal antenna
positioning, the SPOT logo should be up as indicated by the
small arrow. Black and red key caps protect the HELP and SOS
keys from accidental activation.
a plastic key cap that you need to lift to access
it. Unlike the HELP button that sends a text
message to your 10 contacts, SOS sends a notification to GEOS, a private company with an
emergency control center that Globalstar has
contracted to provide global response services
for registered SPOT owners. Never test the SOS
button without pre-approval of GEOS and
SPOT, as doing so may result in a fine. Given
that 98 percent of all 121. 5 MHz emergency
locator transmitters (ELT) notifications were
false alarms, any attempt to eliminate false
notifications makes sense. You can read my full
SPOT 2 evaluation at www.TrendsAloft.com/
SPOT.html, including details announced at press
time of a voluntary return of early SPOT 2
devices that might not meet battery and messaging operating specifications.
SPOTs need manual activation and work best
outside an aircraft. Most likely, if you survive a
crash, you’ll be able to activate a SPOT (or other
personal locator beacon). However, it’s conceivable you might survive a crash but not be able to
send a PLB or SPOT help signal. Thus a combination of a new 406 MHz ELT and a separate
portable device gives you the highest probability
of getting help when you need it.
That’s better than relying upon Superman; if
you haven’t heard, he’s busy dealing with the
equivalent of kryptonite at his day job.
Below: The G500-equipped Husky I flew for last month’s column left the factory in Wyoming with a SPOT unit, which let me
track its progress via the Internet before our planned flight.
Max Trescott, EAA 531980, is an aviation author, publisher,
and the 2008 National CFI of the Year. Read more about
his dual life as a flight instructor and publisher at www.