National Flight Following 168.650

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SCPD

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This frequency (168.650) was designated as "National Flight Following" sometime in the late 1990's. The first listing of it I have is in a U.S. Forest Service frequency directory dated May 2000. I would like to know if anyone has been monitoring this frequency in their local area, and what they may have heard.

All aircraft being used by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, BLM, BIA, and Fish and Wildlife Service are required to establish "flight following", which means those aircraft must make contact with a dispatch center every 20 minutes while in the air. When working on initial attack or a large incident this flight following is generally done with personnel on the incident itself. When helicopters, reconnaissance, tankers, leads or air attack aircraft are flying from their bases to incidents on other jurisdictions they have to flight follow with whatever dispatch center they can establish radio contact with. Many years ago this was done on what is now designated "National Air Guard" on 168.625, when it was known as "National Air Net." With the use of Air Guard become restricted to emergencies and initial calling only, aircraft had to dial up the local jurisdictions frequency. When flying over entire states this required quite a bit of work. To alleviate the need to change frequencies so often, National Flight Following was established with a frequency of 168.650. Wildland agencies were supposed to provide base stations, or in most cases, remote base stations on a nearby peak or mountain, for National Flight Following.

I have 168.650 programmed in my scanner but don't hear anything on it locally. I would like to hear from folks located in other parts of California who hear traffic on this frequency, especially if they hear the remote base of the nearest wildland fire dispatch center on this frequency. I'm trying to get some sense of how widespread, and at what stage, the implementation of this system is.
 

Mick

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I monitor the major fires and the last time I heard 168.65 used in southern California was on Oct. 22, 2007.

“En route Stable Fire” “I'm a C130” “Switch to 172.475”
 

gmclam

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168.6500

I have 168.650 programmed in my scanner but don't hear anything on it locally. I would like to hear from folks located in other parts of California who hear traffic on this frequency, especially if they hear the remote base of the nearest wildland fire dispatch center on this frequency. I'm trying to get some sense of how widespread, and at what stage, the implementation of this system is.
I keep track of whether or not I've received traffic on a frequency, and any tone value received. I know I've heard traffic on this frequency in the past 2 weeks in the Sacramento area. I've noted receiving tones of none, 110.9 & 118.8; although some of those may have been received while traveling around the state. I believe the conversations last week were with 110.9
 

JayMojave

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Hello Exsmokey:

There was a fire about 40 to 50 miles south of Porterville Ca yesterday that the USFS was fighting and I was able to zero in on most all the Air Attack frequencies. I was also monitoring 168.650 and did not hear any traffic. This went on for several hours, allowing me to search the VHF and UHF frequencies while another scanner was scanning known USFS frequencies. Its possible that the aircraft were not away from the tanker bases long enough to use the national flight following frequency. Over the past few months I have only hear very light traffic on 168.650.

123.975 was used for the Air Attack Tanker bases, traffic here was short and quick. Mostly requests for fuel, fire retardant reloading, and aircraft maintenance issues. I could easily hear USFS Tanker Base here in Lancaster Ca, and other aircraft calling Porterville Ca Air Attack Tanker Base.

135.975 was used for air to air, like from the tactical control aircraft to the tanker aircraft just getting off the ground, and coming the direction of the fire. The aircraft tactical controller aircraft guy had a very distinctive voice that allowed one to identify him on other frequencies he was talking on. A really big help.

170.000 was used as air to ground operations. Again the aircraft tactical controller was heard on this frequency talking to Porterville Ca.

169.150 135.625 122.975 was also used

But the real great catch was found on the searching scanner was the new tactical command frequency they were using. They had to repeat it several times on the other frequencies so that all the Air Attack Tanker Aircraft would catch it. The Lancaster Ca Tanker Base on 123.975 gave it out many times also.
172.8125 was used to get all the tanker aircraft on the drop location. I believe that it was in the Sequoia National Forest somewhere.


Jay in the Mojave
 

JayMojave

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Yes I believe so, as I can see the smoke 50 or so miles or more north of me.

172.6125 is the new air to ground frequency, but a few of us have dialed in the frequencies I menationed yesterday and we can listen in on most all the activities. 168.200 has ground fire fighting traffic. Good listening.

168.650 NOT being used, be advised.

Jay in the Mojave

You are talking about the Piute Fire NE of Caliente....how is that going?
 

JayMojave

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Hello Exsmokey:

Yesterday USFS Fox Field Tanker Base was calling Tanker 00 on 168.650, in the blind to RTB to FOX to refuel and reload to go to the San Bernardino Fire. No answer. No one was monitoring that frequency.

It appears this might be a designated frequency that everyone ignores. The Air Tankers working the fire 60 miles north of me use 123.975, 135.975, 168.675, 172.6125 and 172.8125 for most all combs. It appears that the designated flight following frequency isn't used much as, it appears to be a rule not a advantage. But I am just a amateur scanner radio monitoring guy, what do I know?!??!?!

Jay in the Mojave Desert

This frequency (168.650) was designated as "National Flight Following" sometime in the late 1990's. The first listing of it I have is in a U.S. Forest Service frequency directory dated May 2000. I would like to know if anyone has been monitoring this frequency in their local area, and what they may have heard.
 

aprswatcher

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168.65

I have monitored the National Flight Following Freq (168.65) for years and always hear traffic on it.
When I lived in Montana and had the bad summer of fires (2006) it was very active.
Also plug in the freq 168.625, also used by the tankers as an Air Guard freq, mainly for emergencies.

73, Rex
 

WayneH

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I was looking through an old file containing freq info from a Thales radio I bought a long time ago. 168.6500 was programmed in manually in P25 mode with a NAC of 293. The radio appears to have been used at Sequoia National Park.

FWIW....
 

SCPD

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168.650 used to be the air to ground in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. It was also the Region 5 Work Channel for the Forest Service. The type of flight following that is done on this frequency is when an aircraft is enroute/returning from an incident or when flying from one air base to another. I heard some traffic on it here in the eastern Sierra last week, but I was driving through some street traffic at the time so I could not pay as much attention as I would have liked. I believe the Inyo National Forest may finally have a remote base set up on this frequency.

The traffic on flight following is normally very routine and regards location, heading, and ETA. They also call when they are about to leave the coverage area of one dispatch center and are moving into the next one.

Thanks to everyone who has given me a report on their monitoring of this frequency. I now have a better idea of how it is being used.
 
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