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Touring Motor Gliders Association (TMGA)

Should we have ELTs?

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Alan asked a great question, and I recall agonizing over this when I first bought the plane. Nearly all my time is in power planes, and at first an ELT seemed like it should be on the Minimum Equipment List. Jim and I discussed it, but the carbon fiber makes it a challenging installation unless you want to go with an external antenna. But after thinking about it more I found alternatives that seem better to me.

For the way back from KMLB to Seattle there was some fairly forbidding terrain, but I finally felt ok about it after getting an a 406 MHz EPIRB. A better solution appeared about a year later on with the InReach SE. I have the minimalist subscription that tracks me every 10 minutes year round when activated, so at least if something happens someone have a general idea where to look. It also allows text messages both to SAR and to loved ones. I have three formatted messages: 1) I've just started flying; 2) I've landed at an intermediate destination; 3) I'm home, landed safely. My wife gets the texts so that she knows what's going on. The messages are on my checklist.

As I thought about it, chances are that I will be able to activate the SOS function in the air if I get into trouble and know I'm going down it's a single button. There's no G-switch, but the track function pretty much points at where to look. So I have the InReach and a 406 EPIRB for a fraction of the cost of an ELT with pretty much the same (actually better) functionality.

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