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Aircraft Monitoring Forum This is the place to discuss monitoring civilian aircraft communications.

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Old 02-27-2012, 6:29 PM
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Default Why am I monitoring KATL & Memphis ATC in rral N.Central, AL?

Forgive me of my ignorance when it comes to monitoring Aircraft as I'm a long time communications hobbyists- simply haven't spent much time monitoring aircraft traffic. In the past have limited my Aircraft monitoring to our local airport @ 122.8 Mhz, with the exception of the few years of my youth when I was in the Civil Air Patrol and was director of communications for our "squad" so took the FCC test and held a FCC radio Licence for a year or so, goes w/out saying Never went anywhere with the whole CAP thing other than getting to fliy around for free a lot and play with radios I truly didn't have much business playing with.. Back to point- live in North Central Alabama, in the rural community of Cullman County, have a nice outdoor omi antenna setup and was searching the aircraft frequencies today and have come across several w/ steady traffic and for most part are all extremely high strength signals. After looking at a map I do realize that where I live is extremely close to the dividing line of the Memphis zone-ZTE & the Atlanta zone-ZTL. One @ 120.025 Mhz I'm receiving both sides of the traffic theses are planes referencing Nashville, Atlanta, and Memphis- a sample of one of the one sided communications would be something like:"Good day Delta 7 2000". Then sometimes you'll here a controller talking back and forth with a pilot? Another frequency I'm getting a lot of this on is 133.175 Mhz most all of these are one sided and seem to be related to KATL and about how each plane is clear for "raftor-sp?"Another @ 127.375 Mhz and is mostly relating to Memphis? I've researched these frequencies and can't find them linked to anything that makes any sense to me, and one of my main questions would be why are these signals so strong, I would guess these ATC towers go through repeaters every so often so they can always maintain communications or are there radios just that powerful as that's a lot of airspace between- for example the Memphis and Atlanta zones, and if so why don't any of these frequencies match up to any of these airports?? Any information would be appreciated- Thanks, J. Clarke
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Old 02-27-2012, 7:35 PM
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I will try to explain this for you. If an aircraft talking to "Center" is on an IFR flight plan, and it has the destination of an uncontrolled field - (that has an instrument approach) they still must cancel IFR upon successful landing at destination. Unless they cancelled while still in contact with ARTCC, --having made visual with the runway, or VFR conditions exist. Instrument approaches to uncontrolled airports are either handled by nearby Approach Control or the ARTCC having coverage there.

The rebroadcast you are hearing is sometimes also used as "clearance delivery" and is located so as to cover communications at the uncontrolled field since VHF air comms is line of sight.

This enables the pilot to hear Center while on the ground at the airfield.

Hope this helps you out some.

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Old 02-27-2012, 7:38 PM
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You may hear this either on clear days or low vis days since the instrument rated pilot can always file an IFR flight plan or is conducting flight training for instrument flying.

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Old 02-27-2012, 9:51 PM
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You are listening to Atlanta and Memphis Center controllers handling aircraft. Center being short for Air Route Traffic Control Center, these "Centers" cover very large areas (refer to the map here:http://www.oakartcc.com/images/artccs.gif)

Because their area of responsibility is so large there is simply no way they can adequately cover the entire area with all the antennas in one location. Instead there are sites known as RCAGs located throughout their areas of responsibilities. There can be several different frequencies associated with each site. They are not necessarily always associated with a specific airport, however some may "serve" an airport or several airports in the same area in order to provide approach/departure services for aircraft operating to smaller airports, usually non-toward ones that are outside of some larger airport's approach/departure control. Some of the frequencies (and possibly some of the ones you have listed) won't be associated with any local airport as they are being used for high altitude sectors in the Center's airspace, high altitude being perhaps 24,000ft and above for example. Just looking at a high altitude chart I see that 127.37 is listed as a high altitude frequency.

Just based on your location, you probably here some aircraft who are already at a cruising altitude transitioning through the area as well as aircraft beginning the arrivals into Atlanta on the Erlin arrival, into Memphis on the Larue arrival, or Nashville on the Graham arrival. You may also hear aircraft coming or going to Birmingham or Huntsville.

Couldn't tell you what "raftor" is but my guess is you may have misheard a different fix that the controller is clearing an aircraft to proceed to.


Hope this clears some things up, I am sure you will have some more questions as you continue your listing so don't hesitate to ask.
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:52 AM
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Hi Jody,

133.175 would be the RCAG site for ZTL @ Chattanooga for the high altitude sector; 127.375 & 120.025 are the RCAG site for ZME @ Tupelo for the ultra high sector.

I think "raftor" that you hear mentioned is the "RPTOR ONE" arrival for Atlanta pronounced as "Raptor".

The RR Database has a list of frequencies for all ARTCC's and sites like www.airnav.com or www.skyvector.com offer tons of information for airports.

Good Luck & Good Listening,
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:04 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your pience w/ my ignorance! @kcoleman-indeed it was RPTOR or raptor as I heard it, wasn't sure if I was hearing rafter or raptor. Everything makes perfect sense, my main question was answered w/ RCAG's- can anyone tell me how far apart these are located from each other and how can I find the closest one to my location-once again all ignorant questions-simply curious?
Thanks again, J. Clarke :edit:OK, just did a bit more research and found some pics of these RCAG setup's @ What does an RCAG look like? I know I've seen an antenna setup that matches these to a t here in Cullman, County- although I realize that doesn't necessarily mean jack. I've been unable to locate any RCAG's listed under ATL's ARTCC although have found some in counties here in N. AL would still like to find the closest one to my location as Gadsden, AL would prob. fit the bill @ 63 miles L.O.S. considering I live in the community of Crane Hill, AL 35053 w/in Cullman County, yet still as strong as these signals are would guess that perhaps there might be one closer if not prhaps in my own County? My next step will be to try and see if I can line any of this traffic up with an online site such as "flightaware.com" given the limited info I'm receiveng from the air comm's I'm not holding my breath simply thought I'd give it a try?? Any other thoughts or suggestions always appreciated!!

Last edited by jody_clarke; 02-28-2012 at 1:18 PM.. Reason: add additional info after a bit of research
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Old 02-28-2012, 1:13 PM
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Jody,

If you haven't seen them already, here are some ARTCC coverage maps with frequencies that may help

Memphis Center - Military Comms Monitoring. HF VHF UHF
Atlanta Center - Military Comms Monitoring. HF VHF UHF

Enjoy!

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Old 02-28-2012, 4:25 PM
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Quote:
can anyone tell me how far apart these are located from each other and how can I find the closest one to my location
The best source I've come across for locating RCAG locations is the RadioReference Database.

For Atlanta Center .....

Atlanta (ZTL) Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

For Memphis Center .....

Memphis (ZME) Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

You can see all the RCAG locations are listed. As an example, click on the link for Memphis Center, then scroll down to "Tupelo MS - RCAG" entry, you will see a small triangle just beside this, if you put your mouse over the small triangle, a "View Subcategory Details" link will appear. Click on this link it will draw the location of the RCAG on a map (link below).

RadioReference.com - Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference Database

Now it would be handy if all the RCAG locations for one Center were drawn together on one map, but as it stands now you have to go through the list and find them yourself. You can see the latitude and longitude are provided for each RCAG, a good way to plot them is plug the coordinates into Google Earth and it will be easy to see them relative to your location.

Quote:
One @ 120.025 Mhz I'm receiving both sides of the traffic theses are planes referencing Nashville, Atlanta, and Memphis
You can see from the database that frequency 120.025 is "Sector 32 Tupelo Ultra Hi". Center or ARTCC airspace is basically divided into "Low Altitude" (below 24000 feet) and "High Altitude" (24000 feet and above). And then "High Altitude" airspace, 24000 feet and above, is further layered or divided into Ultra High Airspace, the boundary for this varies between Centers and Sectors but is generally between 34000 and 36000 feet. You can see Tupelo is listed as an Ultra High sector and in this case it is controlling the airspace at 35000 feet and above. To determine the coverage area and altitude limits of each sector you need to look at a "Sector Chart" but these are not easy to find. As an example the link below is for Kansas City (I have not beeen able to find any for either Memphis or Atlanta on the web).

File:Kansas City ARTCC High Sector Freqs 2009.jpg - The RadioReference Wiki

Now I'm curious, are you saying you are can hear the controller on 120.025 ? The Tupelo RCAG site is 100 miles (86 nautical miles) from Crane Hill, AL. Center transmissions from the controller, pointed at aircraft in the air, are usually very week along the ground, it's hard to get them beyond around 10 to 15 miles. So I'm wondering if you are really getting the controller from that distance, or maybe it's from a different (unlisted) site ???

Quote:
My next step will be to try and see if I can line any of this traffic up with an online site such as "flightaware.com"
You can see the actual flightplanned route on FlightAware. Keep a log of all the flights you hear on one frequency and look at their routes and you will be able to get a pretty good picture of what routes/area that controller is working.
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Old 03-01-2012, 9:23 PM
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120.02 is ZME 32, 127.37 is ZME 31. 32 overlies sectors 30 and 31, during the mid shifts all three are combined and you may hear the same controller transmissions on both frequencies. When 30 and 31 are split, but 32 is not open (usually it doesn't open until about 0700-0730 local, sometimes later depending on traffic), they will each own FL240 and above.

Our high altitude sectors cover from FL240-FL340, UH is FL350 and above.
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