How did the ELT antenna break off?


Yesterday Ed and I went around the pattern a couple of times. On our first departure there was a funny sound in the back, I turned to Ed to ask him what it was. We really had no clue, but presumed it was probably the tow bar and other baggage meeting in the back. Well after a couple of landings we went back to parking. When Ed was putting the covers over the rear window he pointed out we did not have an ELT antenna. We put 2 and 2 together and figured out the sound was the ELT antenna banging the tail as it fell back down to earth. Has anyone else heard of this happening, it seems to be a very flexible antenna and not something that would snap? Pretty strange?
Thats kind of a strange one lain. I assume you are talking about a Cessna. If so, have you ever looked back at the antenna in flight before? That thing is flappin around like crazy usually! Lots of stress is placed on that flimsy little antenna. My guess would be, that since the FAA only places rules on the inspection and replacement of the BATTERY and not the antenna too, that only the required battery maintenance was done on the aircraft. And depending on how old the aircraft is, if the ELT itself has never been replaced, that antenna could have gotten pretty brittle over the years. Probablly just snapped off due to stress cracks inside the darn thing. Thats my 2 cents. Still pretty weird though.
But it is so flexible, I would not imagine it snapping like it must have. I wonder if water got past the rubber cone and the bottom was rusty. When I squawked it I did say there was a reward if found.
Good thought there, rust could have certainly been the culprit. Especially considering the small diameter of that antenna wire. Just be glad that it came off in flight and not during some forced landing somewhere when it would REALLY be needed!
Don't feel bad Ian, I broke one myself once while demonstrating to a student just how flexible they are. As I was standing there with the broken antenna in my hand I had a flashback of my dad chewing me out about playing with the power windows in the car when I was a kid.

The antenna broke at the base, under the little rubber cone. I was quizzing the student on what each of the antennas were for, and when I got to the ELT antenna I took ahold of it between my thumb and fore finger just above the little cone and it went like this (me) " hey, what's this one for? "[ waggle waggle waggle, SNAP! ]
Yep, it was my fault, I just plain broke it.
Had the ELT antenna break of of a 2001 Archer III this spring. Its broke down at the base under the rubber cone and clearly had rusted through.
I've seen it happen twice, though not recently. I didn't actually witness the breaking off, but was walking around the ramp on two separate occassions and happened to notice an aircraft with no ELT antenna. Thought it was weird too....but I guess this now confirms that they really do break off somewhat more easily then I had previously thought.