Pilot Theodore Wright made a quick radio call to ATC before cutting the electrical master switch, hopeful that would cut the trouble off at the source. But it was not, apparently, an electrical fire. While opening the door cleared some of the smoke from the cabin, flames were visible outside, apparently coming from the baggage compartment door, and Wright cut the throttles and dived for the Gulf of Mexico.
Wright, and passenger Raymond Fosdick managed to don personal flotation devices as the aircraft sank beneath their feet, and were rescued just before sunset Sept. 20 by the U.S. Coast Guard, which dispatched a helicopter after receiving an alert through a hand-held SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. Wright bought the SPOT in 2008 to report his position to family and friends during a circumnavigation in a sailboat. It has been part of his kit ever since. "I don't go anywhere without it," Wright said, adding that his 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter failed to register the position of the aircraft, which sank about 60 seconds after landing on the water.
A hiker, who fell 10 feet and snapped his ankle, used SPOT to alert a search and rescue team and lead them to his location. Timothy Nye, 60, had been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for five weeks when the incident occurred. As Nye stepped to the edge of the trail, the ground beneath him gave away. After Nye recovered from his fall, he used SPOT to send for help and U.S. Navy helicopter arrived to lift Nye from the rough terrain.
Upon receiving a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger SOS alert, a Canadian Coast Guard ship went to the tracked location. Once there crew members found five narwhal hunters. "The hunting party had been hunting for quite a while and due to weather they were delayed for at least three days, so they were running out of heating fuel," said Christian Cafiti, with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ont.
Mother-of-three Nivia Pryor, 44, from Brisbane, was hiking alone on the Bibbulmun Track in the Perth Hills to raise money for an autism charity when she suffered several injuries. Pryor says she slipped and fell in wet, treacherous conditions, smashed her head on a rock and damaged her knee. She believes she was unconscious for about four hours, before she regained her senses and activated her SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger. She pressed the "Help Me" button to send her coordinates to her partner's phone and email, who in turn sent police to her location.