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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    In heels

    Man's TV transmits international distress signal

    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. Van Rossman, unfortunately, does not have cable and can only get four channels in his apartment. He mostly watches Oregon Public Broadcasting, which comes in clearest, and he's acquired a taste for OPB children's programming.

    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.

    "My initial thought was, ‘Oh, it's the airport again,'" Bamberger said. "We've had the signals from the airport go up the Willamette River all the way through Albany and into Lebanon."

    The radio-wave signals can bounce off metal structures and rocky hillsides. From time to time Bamberger is dispatched to the airport to locate a transponder in a plane that has been bumped by a mechanic or set off by a rough landing.

    But this case was different.

    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."

    Last edited by Casshew; 10-18-2004 at 09:43 PM.

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