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"Spot Check OK. Latitude: 37.7445. Longitude: -97.224," read a text message on my cell phone, and I knew that contributor Bill Stein had made it safely in his Edge 540 to Wichita, Kans., the final stop on his cross-country flight from Chicago, Ill. He was checking in using the Spot Satellite Messenger, a personal tracking device that lets users send out "OK" and "Help" messages via text and e-mail; if the situation is dire, Spot can activate emergency rescue services. During air show season, Bill flies many long legs over remote areas, ferrying from one show to the next. His experimental airplane doesn't have an ELT, and he often enlists friends and family as a "homegrown flight watch." They can watch his progress in real time via Spot's tracking website, which overlays his flight path on an interactive Google Earth map. In this month's "Tech Talk," Bill discusses the ease of mind that pilots will appreciate if they need to deviate from a planned route for weather or other unforeseen reasons. (If only Spielberg had given E.T. a Spot, his alien family might have been spared some distress.) Provided the Spot device has a clear view of the sky, it should work anywhere covered by the Globalstar communications network. I took mine on a recent trip in a C-130 flown by the New York Air National Guard to Greenland (featured in the Nov/Dec 2008 issue of our other aviation title, Pilot Journal), and successfully transmitted text messages to friends back home with my GPS coordinates on the ice cap in the Arctic Circle.
Zivko Edge Phone Home Jessica Ambats Plane and Pilot; Nov 2008; 44, 11; Docstoc pg. 6 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
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