False alarm brings Hercules to area

It’s a bird, it’s a plane . . . well, actually it was a plane—and a very large one at that.
A C-130 Hercules from the 17 Wing Canadian Forces Base in Winnipeg patrolled the area Thursday afternoon in search of an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) that was thought to have gone off near here.
The Hercules aircraft—a four-engine turboprop considered the “workhorse” of Canada’s military—was flying at a low altitude over the Fort Frances area for a little more than an hour when it discovered the ELT, which can be triggered after a hard landing or crash, actually was coming from Kenora.
“It was near Kenora, but it was a false alarm. Somebody activated his ELT by mistake,” said Pierre Bolduc, an air traffic controller at CFB Trenton, which called 17 Wing on Thursday morning to search for the ELT.
It takes about an hour-and-a-half for the aircraft, which can reach a top speed of 604 km/h at 20,000 feet, to reach Fort Frances from Winnipeg.
“The signal, for some reason, was publicated by the power line and it was giving us a false indication of the location,” Bolduc noted.
Personnel at the Fort Frances Airport were notified the Hercules was coming to the area, but the plane never touched down here nor were local personnel asked for their assistance.
“It seemed odd yesterday [Thursday] that they didn’t phone us to ask us to send somebody out,” said Darwin Woods, an airport machine operator here.
The reason why local airport personnel were not asked for assistance was due to Canadian military procedure, noted Bolduc.
“We don’t send any civilians,” he remarked. “We ask them to investigate their airport if we think the location is the airport itself, but we don’t send them out.
“If anything, Trenton usually asks us to monitor 121.5 and that’s the emergency frequency,” said Woods.
But Woods added most of the ELTs they pick up are false alarms.
“Since these satellites have been in place, there are phantom hits all the time,” noted Woods, who was the one who received the call around 3:30 p.m. that the Hercules was leaving the area.

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