Artist’s Rendering of Art
When John Rhoads, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhoads, 67 set out to take a Christmas day drive on a remote high desert Eastern Oregon road, they never imagined that their GPS system would steer them wrong. When they became STRANDED in FOOT AND A HALF deep snow, the two trusting and elderly drivers expected that their GPS enabled phone would help authorities to locate them.
BUT THE SIGNAL FROM THE PHONE WAS TOO WEAK FOR OVER TWO DAYS.
TOO WEAK, IN FACT, TO MAKE CONTACT WITH EVEN THE CLOSEST OF HELP. HAVING LITTLE IN THE WAY OF PROVISIONS IN THEIR VEHICLE, BEYOND THEIR WELL STOCKED SURVIVAL KIT, THE COUPLE FACED LIFE-THREATENING DEHYDRATION, EXPOSURE AND [REALLY BAD DVD’S????]
BUT IT NEARLY COST THEM THEIR LIVES.
When they were able to call in, they alternated between two different phone numbers until one phone was capable of emitting a weak signal that allowed authorities to track down their location.
[NOTE: DID ANYONE REPORT THEM MISSING?]
According to Klamath County Sherrif Tim Evinger, “GPS almost did ’em in and GPS saved ’em. It will give you options to pick the shortest route. You certainly get the shortest route. But it may not be a safe route.”
The Rhodes were following their GPS instructions as they headed from Portland to Reno when they were eventually directed to a forest service road outside of Silver Lake, Oregon. They followed the road and several spurs for almost 35 miles before they became stuck.
NOW, THE AIR FORCE HAS BEEN DRAGGED into the controversy after allegations that our GPS satellite infrastructure (AND OBAMA?) is the cause. The claim is that the system of satellites is aged, has interference from objects in space, or has any number of problems that are the cause of faulty directions.
But the Air Force is standing up for the condition of our GPS satellites, stating in a Twitter announcement that “While we do not want to speculate on what caused the couple to get stuck in the snow; the cause was not due to the GPS signal.”
YES, THE AIR FORCE SPACE COMMAND HAS A TWITTER ACCOUNT under the username @AFSpace. Toni Tones, the AFSPC spokesperson said that the current systems “…are the most capable in the history of the program.” She insisted that the down stream signal from the GPS constellation was indeed very strong.
She described the REDUNDANCY in the GPS constellation, with 24 of the 30 satellites active at any one time. The remainder are kept as backups in case they are needed when one of the operating satellites is out of commission or is scheduled for periodic upgrades. As a result, if a satellite fails, another can be up and providing coverage within minutes.
As for what caused the Rhoads to become stranded or for the output signal from their phone to be weak, Tones refused to speculate.
A GPS enabled phone sends its coordinates to the 911 dispatcher…but only when the signal is strong enough.