how far can pilots hear in the air?

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mgolden2

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I know this depends on their altitude, the higher the better and farther you can talk and hear, but I thought this would be an interesting question for the pilots out there. We read a lot about how far ground stations can hear the airplanes, so lets turn it around!

How far away can a pilot hear the next airport? Whats the farthest away a pilot has talked to, or heard from, another pilot in the air?

I look forward to your answers!

Matt
KC
 

b7spectra

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Long, long ways! Dependent on frequency as well. If the skip is right, you can hear from hundreds of miles away. Don't forget about HF, those can go for thousands of miles.

While flying during the 96 Olympics, we were able to hear ATL while in Savannah as well as hit our company repeater on UHF (450MHz) while at 1500 ASL.
 

K4DHR

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Depends on the altitude of the aircraft, location of the transmitter, and the placement of antennas on the aircraft.

Sometimes when we have to go looking for a NORDO aircraft, they're sometimes 200 miles away from the transmitter of the last frequency they're on. Generally RCAG sites are located so that generally on a low altitude sector that an aircraft will never be more than about 50 or so miles from a transmitter. On high altitude, it is probably about 60-80 miles. Of course this is VERY general, and many low altitude (center) sectors may have alternate transmitter sites to improve frequency coverage.
 

krokus

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One example I can give, from a few years ago:
While driving around, a little west of Detroit, I heard an aeronautical mobile station pop up on 146.520 MHz. This station stated he was using a handheld, sitting on the dashboard of the airplane. The plane flying at 31000 feet, located "a little south" of Lake Michigan.
 

prcguy

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I had to search some old threads to remember a test I did years ago from a vehicle mounted radio to an aircraft in the VHF aircraft band, Check out the distance below plucked from the old thread and aircraft to aircraft at high altitude should easily break the 400mi barrier that I got close to from the ground.

"My personal record from an 800ft hill to an aircraft at 34,000ft over water was 338NM as read by the pilot who set my location as a waypoint, which is 388.96 statute miles! Aircraft was a Boeing 737 (20 to 40w?) and a 5w VHF hand held with 1/4 wavelength whip."
prcguy
 

mgolden2

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This is very cool! Its interesting to see how far away people have talked to, and talked from, airplanes.
 

rwier

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This is very cool! Its interesting to see how far away people have talked to, and talked from, airplanes.

Well, I was just going to make a stab at your first question:

"How far away can a pilot hear the next airport?"

with:

Moon to Huston is probably the record, lol!

and then you add "airplanes" to the mix, so give up, lol!
 

EMD91123

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I have heard while listening into Denver Center an Aircraft was lost in Kansas City Center relay his location where A Delta flight relayed this position of the lost aircraft after talking to Denver and this aircraft was a good 400 miles away
 

n9mxq

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Did Field Day from a private plane one year. With a DJ-F1T handie on a 1/4 wave external antenna. At 2000 feet over northern Illinois we worked Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and if I remember (can't find the log) Missouri.

We were only up for a total of an hour or so, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.. Once stations heard we were working Aeromobile, we were lit up as a kind of "rare dx" and soon were under a pile up the likes I've never heard on 2 meters..
 

zz0468

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I used to have a 2 meter rig permanently installed in my C172, and from a few thousand feet. I could easily work 200 miles out. I think lack of activity, more than anything else, kept me from talking more than a few hundred miles, even from above 10,000 feet.

And there's not really much need to talk real far to ATC on the aircraft radio. I think the furthest I ever heard anything on the aircraft radios was few VOR's from 300+ miles out when I was at around 12,000 feet.
 

N4KVE

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About 25 years ago, before pocket cellphones, some Delta pilots who were hams would call their wives on a UHF autopatch to tell them to get dinner started. They were over Orlando Florida, & the repeater was in Miami. They were in the ****pit using a 5 watt Icom or other Jap HT at 34,000 feet. The repeater was at 100 feet. That was 200 miles on a useless rubber duck. Imagine if they used a factory installed avionics radio. GARY N4KVE
 

zerg901

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I am guessing the range will be less if there are thunderstorms in the area - due to interference to AM comms from lightning - and maybe due to moisture in thunderheads deflecting radio wave energy
 

zz0468

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I am guessing the range will be less if there are thunderstorms in the area - due to interference to AM comms from lightning - and maybe due to moisture in thunderheads deflecting radio wave energy
The electrically charged water droplets can cause static, so many airplanes have static discharge wicks on the trailing edges of the wings to dissipate it. The moisture itself really isn't much of an impediment at VHF. Up in the microwave range it becomes either highly absorptive, or highly reflective, depending on the specific frequency.
 

nr2d

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There is a thing called "Radio Line of Sight" and there is a formula for figuring it out:
SQR(2H) where H = the height or altitude in feet and the RLOS will be in Statue Miles. This is a theoretical calculations but will give you a good reference.
 

mgolden2

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field day from the air, how cool is that!
 

MTS2000des

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way back in the 1990s, before all the "homeland security theater" horse poo, I regularly carried my UHF portable flying to NYC. At night, most pilots were cool and if you asked, you were allowed to operate at cruising altitude. I worked an Atlanta UHF repeater that was on a broadcast tower about 1100HAAT, and carried into central Virginia, at 31K feet.

Not bad for a 4 watt HT600!
 
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