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Thread: Comm Frequencies in bush areas?

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    Default Comm Frequencies in bush areas?

    Forgive my ignorance as I am not a pilot.

    I am trying to find out if there is a specific radio frequency/frequencies that pilots monitor while flying over remote areas of Alaska, such as what Channel 16 is for mariners (hailing channel). (Or, even not so remote, such as down on the Kenai, while flying over Denali NP/Amber Lake, etc.)

    For example, if an injured/distressed hiker on the ground were to hear a plane in the area, how would he contact the plane via an air band handheld transceiver?

    I know that 121.5 is the national emergency frequency for aviation and aircraft ELT's, but I wonder if anyone actually listens to it while flying about. (Same for 243MHz, does the Air National Guard, State Troopers actually monitor that while in the air?)

    How do aircraft contact each other/coordinate when landing in uncontrolled areas, such as Amber Lake?

    You guys can see where I'm going with this, have any thought?

  2. #2

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    FL2AK,

    121.9 is a common air to air frequency that most pilots utilize over remote areas if another frequency is not already designated. Denali NP has designated freqs: North 122.725/South 123.65. Knik Glacier, Lake George and Eklutna area Flight Advisory is 122.7. Alaska has Remote Communication Outlets (RCOs) all over the state that pilots utilize to talk to Flight Service Stations for weather updates and the like. Cook Inlet South of the mouth of Beluga River to South of Kalgin Island/Clam Gulch CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency) is 122.7. Airports have designated freqs too. Some pilots do listen to 121.5, but I know I only have one radio in my Cub so I am usually up 122.9 or a local freq in case of emergency...just depends. Hope this helps a little.

    Brett

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    Member Float Pilot's Avatar
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    I am on whatever RCO works in the area or on 121,9 (or 121.8 in some areas) But I do go over to 121.5 every few minutes and turn off the squelch just to listen for a beacon or eprib. I have run across a couple that way over the last few years.

    If I can reach a flight service station or main facility via an RCO repeater I like to give a pi-rep (pilot report) so at least somebody in the world will have a record of my position and conditions at that time.... But I am paranoid and like to fly from one possible emergency landing spot to the next.

    What really burns my butt is the yahoos who sit on 121.9 or 121.8 or 121.7 and talk to their long lost buddy about everything in the world. So nobody can talk until they have explained grandma's cookie recipe in great detail.
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    Ohhhh so they have repeaters...do they have tone squelch that has to be sent for access, or are the repeaters just retransmitting whatever they hear?

    Where might I find a list of those designated frequencies by geographic region or a list of those RCO repeater frequencies?

    Thanks for the info. I'll put 121.9 into my handheld's memory bank as a start.

  5. #5

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    Do you guys mean 122.9? I see 121.9 in a bunch of posts, that is usually a ground control freq. Lake Clark Pass CTAF is 122.9, and most other airports out our way are 122.9 or 122.8, so those are the ones that people generally use out here. I'm with Alex...I give a position update to FSS every time I can hit a repeater.

    For air to air talk, the only approved frequency is 122.75, but people seem to clutter other freqs instead...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Hamon View Post
    Do you guys mean 122.9? I see 121.9 in a bunch of posts, that is usually a ground control freq. Lake Clark Pass CTAF is 122.9, and most other airports out our way are 122.9 or 122.8, so those are the ones that people generally use out here. I'm with Alex...I give a position update to FSS every time I can hit a repeater.

    For air to air talk, the only approved frequency is 122.75, but people seem to clutter other freqs instead...
    I checked wikipedia for "CTAF", and that led me to articles on UNICOM and MULTICOM. As near as I can tell, they are both used for the same thing-uncontrolled airport, air to ground communication. There are only two approved MULTICOM frequencies in the US-122.9 and 122.925. UNICOM has a list of 8 frequencies ranging from 122.7 to 123.075, but neither 122.9 nor 122.75 are on that list.

    Of course, this is wikipedia we're talking about; not exactly research quality material. But it helps to know the right search terms as a place to start looking.

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    Member IndyCzar's Avatar
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    The FAA just sent to my house a book called Alaska Aviators Safety Handbook, second edition...It is a wealth of information on frequencies, signage, local procedures, FAA programs, repeaters, and gouge for off airport operations along with maps and diagrams of most of our well used airports...seems to be well laid out and useful booklet that could be kept in the airplane for reference..

    Check your mailbox...seems all the folks around here got one...

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    CTAF is typically 122.7, 122.8, or 122.9, with 122.9 being the most common. There are other CTAF frequencies, too, so a pilot needs to check for where he's flying. Places like the Knik valley at 122.7 or the Wasilla area strips at 122.8 are well documented yet lots of guys announce for those locations on 122.9. That forces guys like me to announce on both 122.9 AND the assigned local frequency. My pet peeve.

    RCO frequencies are assigned and documented as well. If you're a pilot in Alaska you should have received the Alaska Aviator's Safety Handbook in the mail. Open it to page 25 and see the state sectioned up and RCO frequencies shown. I never knew there were so many. I've always used 122.2 around Anchorage or for flights that originated here. Now I know better. CTAF frequencies are addressed on page 37.

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    122.9 unless otherwise stated. Look for nearest airport with CTAF listed (magenta color) on an aeronautical chart (http://vfrmap.com/). The RCOs are in blue and you have to call them up and state the frequency you're replying on. Not sure about the legality of using it for non-aircraft ops, but I think if it's a real emergency it's all good.

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    Anybody know where to order the "Alaska Aviator's Safety Handbook"? I haven't received said handbook and don't know if I will. I seem to get every other piece of aviation advertisement/subscription/literature, just not the important ones...this one sounds very useful!

    I haven't found anything around the internet...Thanks in advance.
    Jason

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    I'd call the FSDO and request one. It really is nicely put together.

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    http://skyvector.com/

    This is a great website. It has sectionals, which have all of the CTAF, ATIS, etc frequencies on them.
    -Out-of-State for school, remembering why I love Alaska so much

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKClimber View Post
    Not sure about the legality of using it for non-aircraft ops, but I think if it's a real emergency it's all good.
    FCC regulations Part 97.403 and Part 97.405, governing emergency communication, allow the use of "...any means of radio communication for the safety of life and protection of property..." (97.403) and/or, when in distress, "...to make known location and condition or to assist others in distress..." (97.405).

    Granted, those rules are geared toward Ham Radio operators but a.) I can't see anyone using an air band radio maliciously, b)I can't see even the federal government, in their oft inept wisdom, coming after an injured hiker for using an air band radio, and c.) if they did, I think I'll pay the fine rather than be stranded in the woods.

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    First I'm not even close to sure if this is right, but here goes: I always thought that 122.7 and 122.8 were assigned to fields that had a radio lic. for the field. So on those field one could request an airport advisory and if manned get an anwser. 122.9 covers the rest and could be used at any unlisted field. VHF we alway used 123.45 for air to air. Again I'm not sure if this is right, wrong or partly right.

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    One thing that I haven't seen mentioned here is that if you aren't in an airplane, you should to have a base station licence from the FAA to broadcast (although I would think an emergency situation would be overlooked). So don't ask the trooper flying overhead if he can drop you a doughnut. For frequencies to listen to, the CTAF (common traffic advisory frequency) would be the first to put into a scanner. These are 122.7, 122.8, and 122.9 most commonly. Some exceptions can be found on the sectional chart free at SkyVector.com. The unofficial gab channel is 123.45. If you want to listen to the current weather broadcasted on a loop, check a sectional for the ATIS/AWOS/ASOS frequency. To get you started, Merrill is 124.25, Palmer is 134.75, and Wasilla is 135.25. I usually can't pick these up from more than about 5 miles on the ground with my hand held.

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    Thanks, Mayhem. Yeah, I'm well aware of all the regulations; I'm only interested for strictly wilderness emergency purposes. I have an FAA A&P Certificate and FCC licenses that I'm not about to risk over some silly middle school radio hijinks.

    By the way, I'm pulling in 124.25 (Currently Information Uniform 2343 local time) at my house in south Anchorage (Huffman/Old Seward) on my hand held using a dipole external antenna.

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    As mentioned, 121.5 is the emergency freq for aviation. While not monitored by satellites anymore, it is by commercial airliners. I remember one rescue I did on the AK peninsula where the downed pilot spent hours trying to get someone on CTAF with his handheld, with no luck. He had a DUH moment, and tried 121.5. While most small plane pilots don't monitor it, the commercial heavies do, and he was able to reach a Northwest Airlines 747 headed to Asia from New York on his first call. At 36,000 ft, commercial airliners are able to hear a hundred miles away, what a Cessna just a few miles away in a valley might not get.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    As mentioned, 121.5 is the emergency freq for aviation. While not monitored by satellites anymore, it is by commercial airliners. I remember one rescue I did on the AK peninsula where the downed pilot spent hours trying to get someone on CTAF with his handheld, with no luck. He had a DUH moment, and tried 121.5. While most small plane pilots don't monitor it, the commercial heavies do, and he was able to reach a Northwest Airlines 747 headed to Asia from New York on his first call. At 36,000 ft, commercial airliners are able to hear a hundred miles away, what a Cessna just a few miles away in a valley might not get.
    That's a really good point.I JUST finished programing my radio, and I put both 121.5 and 243 into it, along with the 122 series of frequencies, as a just in case.

    By the way, I have an iPod app that calculates VHF line of sight; at 36k ft, it's 268 miles. For ground level, it's under 4 miles. (Of course, we know that's not the max range of the radio.)

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    Except for my Super Cubs, my planes always had two NAV/COM radios, and one was always tuned to 121.5. They also had DF-88 Direction Finders, so I never had to fly "weaker-stronger" signal searches, but could follow the needle directly to the 121.5 signal I was hearing.

    For air-to-air stuff, we mostly used 123.45. It was unassigned, but wasn't really the right thing to do, I think. Still, it didn't bother anyone else, so we used that.

  20. #20

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    123.45 is commonly used for air-to-air chat up here. It is assigned for flight testing purposes, and I think it is assigned to Boeing. Might be a problem in some quarters, but not up here. 122.75 is specifically assigned for air-to-air, and will work for that purpose legally no matter where you are in the US without stepping on any authorized comms.

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