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Step away from the TV and no one gets hurt

Corvallis, Oregon

Mystery signal traced to TV

When Chris van Rossman moved into his downtown apartment about a year ago, his parents bought him a new 20-inch color TV with all the bells and whistles.

The flat-screen Toshiba came with its own set of stereo speakers, a 181-channel tuner, built-in VCR, DVD and CD players, a V-chip for parental control over content and, of course, a remote control...

Maybe the television suffered an identity crisis. Maybe it aspired to higher things.

Whatever the reason, van Rossman's TV set sent out a cry for help. It began emitting the international distress signal on the night of Oct. 2.

The 121.5 MHz frequency signal was picked up by an orbiting search and rescue satellite, which informed the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

Such signals usually come from electronic locator transponders that help search and rescue workers find overturned boats or crashed airplanes. It is said that more than 90 percent of ELT signals are false alarms, but each and every one is checked out.

Langley got on the horn to the Civil Air Patrol, an all-volunteer auxiliary to the Air Force, and the CAP got ahold of Benton County Search and Rescue Deputy Mike Bamberger for assistance in locating the source of the signal. ...

Armed with small receiving devices, Bamberger and a group of Civil Air Patrol volunteers determined the distress signal was coming from an apartment building on the corner of Fourth Street and Jackson Avenue, narrowing the possible sources down to a couple of upstairs units.

On the morning of Oct. 3, van Rossman opened his front door to find CAP personnel in Air Force uniforms, a Corvallis police officer and a Benton County Search and Rescue deputy looking at him expectantly. To his credit, he did not stress out.

"I have a pretty spotless record, so I wasn't overly concerned just a little confused," van Rossman said. "The police officer asked if I was a pilot or had a boat or anything. I said no, and they moved on."

After checking in with van Rossman, the group continued the search.

"We narrowed it down to a spot on the wall in the hallway," Bamberger said. "Whatever was behind that spot is what it was."

They knocked on van Rossman's door again, and the signal abruptly stopped.

He turned off the T.V. to answer the door and the signal stooped. That's how they figured it out.

I've been the guy knocking on the door before. We've seen false alarms from a guy who took his ELT out his plane then had a car wreck on the way home, the impact was enough that the ELT thought the plane crashed. Another time a wife set it off to get her pilot husband in trouble. That one backfired BTW.

I've never heard one like this one though.


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Comments (4)

This reminds me of a time w... (Below threshold)

This reminds me of a time when I was working at Boeing and a couple of 20 year tenure mechanics decided to swipe one of the survival rafts from a 747. They pulled the cord and threw it in the river. Coast Guard boats and helicopters closed in soon after. Damn ELTs!!!!

My wife has something like ... (Below threshold)

My wife has something like that hidden on me somewhere. She always seems to know where I am...

The same thing happened whe... (Below threshold)

The same thing happened when the installed a JUMBOtron at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, AR.

Truth: stranger than fictio... (Below threshold)

Truth: stranger than fiction. What a bizarre story.




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