Anyone have any experience using the Spot or Spot II Tracker/Messenger flying in Alaska? I have a gift certificate at REI and I'm thinking of buying one.
Flying, no. Plenty of ground travel though. The original SPOT works great. Just as advertised.
Be careful about the SPOT II as it has already been factory recalled and they are being very slow about fixing some problems with that unit.
Search for the SPOT threads, mostly in the outdoor gear forums and you'll find plenty of discussions about them.
I occasionally take mine and leave it on track mode. My wife likes it because she knows where I am, or was, within the last 5-10 minutes. The unit sends a regular signal out and she can load a google-maps web page and it plots it automatically. I also used it on a long bicycle trip in the lower 48 so she and family could see where I was along the route. I haven't used it in an emergency, but it does provide peace of mind for the user and anyone worried about you..
Using SPOT on long cross country
I purchased my Piper PA22/20 out of Washington and had a ferry pilot fly it up to Anchorage. He used SPOT and gave me the website and log-on to track his flight up. It was great. It allowed me to track his progress up from WA in nearly-real-time and zoom-in to his location within 15 to 20 minutes. If I noticed multiple "pings" in the same spot I could assume he had landed. And zoom in on the airport.
I could zoom in and even track his movements around the apron. It was pretty neat. To do that i believe you have to not only buy the spot but pay for a monthly service fee. The fee rates differ depending on what services you want to add on. I believe the internet tracking feature that he had was a more expensive option.
On a side note. I was quite dismayed when he took a right turn at Tok and headed towards Fairbanks. He actually called a couple hours after landing that evening to explain that his partner, also flying up from WA in a supercub, had had some concerns about his engine and asked Jim Unger (my ferry pilot) to accompany him a little further toward Fairbanks.
By the way...I should throw in a plug for Jim, he was a great ferry pilot. Really, he's a retired electrician that found his passion for flight after retiring. He has now logged thousands of hours. Consequently, he flew my plane up for very little $...more for the fun of flying. If anyone ever needs to ferry a plane to/from WA his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.