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Greenhorn wanting to listen to aircraft. Need help.

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New Market TN
#1
Never listened to aircraft before, so i dont really know much of anything. I guess im planning on listening to:
Atlanta RadioReference.com - Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference Database 2243
McGee Tyson McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference
Moore Murrell Moore-Murrell Airport (MOR) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference
Tri Cities Tri-Cities Regional Airport (KTRI) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

That is if i can pick them up. I live in Jefferson County TN. I know i wont be able to pick up ground operations such as maintenance, security, etc. How far does the tower usually reach for final approach and landing? I see RCAG sites for atlanta that i should be able to pick up. How does McGee Tyson command their approach planes? They dont have RCAG sites. As far as Moore Murrell, I dont even know if they have an air traffic controller so who controls them?

What does discrete mean on the altanta website? I see there are sectors, is there a map with the different sectors? ultrahigh/high/low/, Is that talking about levels of altitude or how much traffic is on that channel?

I have a Pro-106 with a diamond rh77ca antenna inside the house. Is that gonna suffice for an antenna or do you need something else. Cant really put up an outside antenna.

I hope i covered every question i have for now.
Thanks.
 

rwier

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#2
I'm about 5 miles from a control tower. With a rooftop antenna I pick up about (wild guess) 5% of the tower's transmissions. Driving toward the tower increases the % to about 90% at a mile distance and on the grounds 1400' from the clearly visible tower coverage approaches 100% coverage. These numbers are close to the same for aircraft transmitting while on the ground.

Once the aircraft are airborne, listening becomes trivial with clear reception being possible out to many miles, depending of many factors. I have never had a satisfactorily pleasing experience monitoring tower traffic any farther away then the perimeter fence.

I know this answer doesn't address any technical questions you have about any particular airport but it does reflect actual scanner use in San Diego, CA; Riverside, CA; Las Vegas, NV; and at several sites in Maricopa Co, AZ.
 

rwier

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#4
Not aimed. CB radio experience similar. Travelling with a $40 CB full conversations are practical (for me) only at distances of half to thee-quarters of a mile, and in curved mountain road conditions line of sight usually necessary.

Now going up a paved road to the top of a desert mountain park, about 2000 feet above the muck filled valley air below, reasonable conversations are possible up to 40 miles away. Same weak powered radio, no aim, just get above the electronic soup below.
 
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#5
You may also want to check Airnav.com :

http://airnav.com/airports/

While the RR databases that include air op freqs are appreciated, there is a lot more information you can glean from Airnav.

While discovering the frequencies for the towers, approach and departures, if you go down the left side of an airport page, they will least other nearby airports that you might be close to.

You can also get an idea of the activity since they tell you if the airport is publicly or privately owned, the amount of daily aircraft activity, and even if the airport is open to the public or not. If open to the public, they might even have a visitor center or safe place to grab a burger on site where you can certainly hear the tower and even watch the activity live.
 
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Blairsville, Georgia
#6
Give the ARTCC's a try. Your under Atlanta Center's airspace, the "main" guys persay. They control everything that isn't in another TRACON controlled airspace, such as Knoxville, Atlanta, Chattanooga. They will be giving aircraft instructions on climbing, descending, traffic information, and lateral navigation, too. You may get the controller on these, try to snoop around to see where you can get these. The highest points in your house (the roof!) are the best places to get them.

127.55000 ZTL WKLD Workload for ZTL 15/18/45/50
134.07500 ZTL 40 BLR-UH Sector 40 Blue Ridge Ultra High ---- this is an ULTRA-HIGH sector, you should be able to hear both sides of the conversation on this. I get aircraft up there down here excellent.

If an airport has no ATC tower, they are in class ECHO or GULF airspace. Pilots just use one frequency for that airport and announce there positions in the traffic pattern, called "CTAF" by pilots, or Common Traffic Advisory Frequency. If they are IFR, or instrument flight rules, then they will switch to departure after to get instruction on there climb and area navigation procedures (newbie speaking). You will have to do some research on atc communications, there is TONS of stuff out there, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding information.

KMOR:
CTAF/UNICOM: 122.8 --- theres that CTAF I was talking about!
WX AWOS-3: 126.725 ( 423-587-5886)
KNOXVILLE APPROACH/DEPARTURE: 132.8
 
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#7
Ok im beginning to understand some things here.
If an airport has a unicom frequency and an approach/departure frequecy that is not a unicom channel such as knoxville, then that must mean they close their tower either at night or some other time.
If an airports tower frequency is a unicom channel then that must mean that no one ever runs the tower.
Correct?

Where did you find the number for the morristown awos?

Are you saying the higher the sector is from Ultralow to Ultrahigh, the more likely it is for me to hear the air traffic controller? I had already figured that the higher the sector is, the more likely it was for me to hear the aircraft but not the atc.
 
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#8
Yes, I believe KTYS does close there tower at night. Then, they usually use the tower frequency for CTAF. If there is no tower or ground frequency, it is an uncontrolled airport. If they have a TRACON (Termina Radar Approach Control), like KTYS and KBNA and KCHA, they are either a class BRAVO or CHARLIE airspace (Again, like those airports). If they are a ECHO class airport, like KMOR, then they just use Knoxville TRACON since they are that close for appraoch and departure for aircraft, where at airports like my location they just use center. Note that you do NOT have to contact approach or center unless you are: in a class ALPHA (above 18,000 and IFR, like your commercial flights), in a class BRAVO (like Atlanta, Charlotte, JFK) or in a class CHARLIE (Like KBNA, KTYS, or KCHA)

PS- Different class approaches cover different areas of land! Class BRAVO airspaces go out about 25 nautical miles, up to 7,000 feet or so, and look like a multfloor upside down wedding cake, CHARLIE's go out about 10 and up to 4,000, and have two altitude stages, like a two piece upsidedown cake, and DELTA's go out only 3-5nm and to around 2,000 AGL. Most airspaces are customized to there location, some are within the specifications though. Check this picture out: http://vatusa.net/training/show_image.php?id=53&gallery=2 and this link for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Airspace_System

Like I said, the ATC system is very complicated until you learn it. Still is after you learn it somewhat! Just research the ATC or the national airspace system, you'll find tons on it for pilots. It really takes knowing all this to learn what the heck they are talking about!!!


Lets say this.... would you rather have your cell tower at 40,000' or at 5,000'? :) Your going to get better reception with the tower at 40,000 feet! :) Are you going to see a plane better (and longer time period) if it's contrailing at 40,000' or try to take track of a Cessna with trees in the way at 3,000'? Remember, VHF is line of sight! Just some perspectives for you to better understand it! :)

Controllers for high sectors might use more power since they have to cover a larger area, especially if the RCAG (tx/rx location) is in the mountains like TN. But.... usually up here the RCAG's are on mountains, so they are better coverage than the flatlanders (think about the plane again, as the RCAG being the plane). Good for us though!

Another PS- Make sure you read the above PS, And you can find this information at www.airnav.com the number will be next to the AWOS frequency!
 
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#9
Well I understand some of what your talking about.
I played MS Flight Simulator for a little while and took the time to learn what the instruments where and some of the basics of air traffic control but skipped most of the boring stuff. Hehe.
 
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#10
I know the hunt is half the fun, but.....

I've been a radio nut for about 15 years now, and I know this just isn't the same for some enthusiasts -- but you may wanna try a site I use.

I've been getting into airport frequencies lately myself... and I found a GREAT website to stream live scanner feeds from all over the world (not just here) for FREE! I'd imagine the opposite, but the people there seem to love giving up their scanners and their bandwidth... even spending the money. People are constantly setting rigs up... The Dublin tower came online last week :)

Listen to Live ATC (Air Traffic Control) Communications | LiveATC.net

If nothing else, at least try the "browse by area" thing -- The people serving the streams note the different frequencies for the particular airport... you may find some stuff to listen for.

I'd go to the forums first - LiveATC Discussion Forums - Index | LiveATC.net - and click the registration link in the top right - lots of the features seem to require you to be logged in.

Here are a few links you might wanna check out after you get logged in.

Top 50 Air Traffic Control Audio Streams | LiveATC.net (top 50 feeds)
Current Potentially Bad Weather Airport Areas | LiveATC.net (feeds experiencing significant weather)
LiveATC Recordings | LiveATC.net (i like this one a lot... "Interesting Recordings"

Here's the main browse page..... All Airport Feeds | Live Air Traffic Control Audio Feeds | LiveATC.net

Trying to find something near you for an example to show you how I use it sometimes. I pick a local airport and get that loaded, then open FlightAware - Flight Tracker / Flight Status / Flight Tracking in another window. Virtual Planespotting!

Knoxville (KTYS Del/Gnd/Twr/App) Listening to: KTYS Del/Gnd/Twr/App | Knoxville, Tennessee, United States | LiveATC.net
FlightAware > Mc Ghee Tyson Airport (Knoxville, TN) KTYS / TYS Flight Tracker

You can see who's coming and going... it helped me a LOT with understanding what they said at first.

Also, if you have a smartphone with Android... or an iPod... there's a liveATC app. I bought the one for Android [ https://market.android.com/details?id=net.liveatc.liveatc_app ] for $2.99 - only app I ever bought!
 
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