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'How to Stop cellular phones ? {SAR; way OT, I gue'
1998\11\18@230201 by Mark Willis

Brian Striggow wrote about the Cell Phone instead of Parka problem;

William Chops Westfield wrote SAR work stories "from the nether reaches
of SAR Hell";

 There's a solution;  Charge the rescuee for their rescue.  Plenty of
precedent here, though IMHO it should only be used to penalize BOZOS,
not people who took reasonable care & got stuck anyways - bad things
happen once in a while, to those who try to prevent them.  And
frequently to those who don't!  The following story is an example of how
hard that dividing line can be to define...

 A couple guys here in Washington State were flying their aircraft up
over the top of Mount Rainier (at which height a typical small aircraft
has about 14 feet per minute climb rate.)  They encountered a nice
downdraft (200 to 400+ fpm wind speeds and more are common), and ended
up, well let's be nice & call it "Landed safely" atop Mount Rainier, as
they walked away.

 As they were dressed in shorts & shirtsleeves type clothing (not
winter clothes, they had nothing much along in the way of survival gear
either), they walked over into the steam caves & spent the night
alternating baking on one side & freezing on the other, was what I
heard;  The next morning, "Cookie Monster" (Nickname, he's a neat pilot,
really careful & knows what he's doing - I'll do SAR flying with him any
time.  So nicknamed because he always carries homemade cookies his wife
makes for him, I'm told; he didn't share with me <G>) - anyways, he
tracked down their ELT (Emergency Locator Transmittor), and "tossed his
cookies" - to the guys on the ground.  (Yep, it's a oft-told story.)
They were pretty pleased to have these for breakfast...  They were
rescued without incident, once found.

 Supposedly, the Park Service ended up threatening these guys with
legal action if they didn't get their "littering" airplane off the Park
Services' nice clean mountain right away.  (There was a newspaper
headline on that IIRC...)  I guess they hired a heavy-lift helicopter or
something, and retreived their plane.  Bet that was expensive, but
considering they lived through it all, it could've been far worse...
Washington State is hard to do search work in (No easy task finding a
broken evergreen top from an airplane hitting a tree, when you're
looking at a mountainside with 200 broken-off tree tops from the ice
storm last week.  And evergreens are nice & dense, so you cannot see
through very well...

 I've used a lot of signals on the ground & smoke bombs on practice
searches, that search aircraft just couldn't see through the trees!
Best bet (IF it's sunny, iffy here <G>) is a mirror or strobe - one
practice search, one team flashed a signal mirror at a passing plane 20
miles away "just for fun", the pilot called the signal in, and some
serious butt chewing resulted, I'm told...

 The real difference between aircraft use of cell phones, and
mountaintop use of cell phones, is that the cells are designed with the
mountains' existence in mind, cells in remote areas are usually pretty
large, and there is very little call volume compared to in the city.  In
the city, the cells are intentionally much smaller (and being made
smaller each time they re-work things!), there's usually much more call
volume per cell, etc. (For example there are 3 repeater sites last I
checked, for US West alone, covering the Auburn/Kent/South Bellevue
area) - and as the cells are smaller - here's the problem - if you're in
an aircraft that hits 2 repeater sites using the same frequencies,
instead of one, it can have problems getting a dial tone, also as
aircraft speed's faster than typical car speed you can switch cell zones
(each repeater has multiple antennae usually & you can have 2 calls on
adjacent channels on two sides but not always on the same side, etc.)

 The good news is that cell phone calls have one heck of an attenuation
rate with disatance through the atmosphere, so if you were in the space
shuttle & tried to get a dial tone, I'm not sure you'd be lucky (I'm not
a radio engineer, I've used a lot of radio gear though mostly HF & so
on, but I talked to a lot of Cell Phone engineers at US West New Vector
while there.)


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