Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A random thought

What's interesting about listening to Air Traffic Control is just how little talk is going on. There are a few very busy periods where there are a half dozen planes in the air all wanting to come in at around the same time, but the controller says something like "Delta 9532 go to flight level 4000 heading 1 6 0" and Delta 9532 says "Delta 9532 flight level 4000 heading 1 6 0" and that's that. 99% of the time, any of the four ATC channels serving the local airport are just dead air -- only the fact that I have my radio cycling through them lickity split in scanner mode finds anything at all.

Contrast with the movies where the pilots just jabber jabber jabber jabber when they're talking to the tower or the ATC or whatever. Reality. Just isn't as dramatic as the movies :-}.

-- Badtux the Geeky Penguin


  1. Used to fly a lot on United and they let you listen to opps on channel 9. The big airports could get real busy but the smaller ones and in between major cities was a snooze fest. It did make the takeoff and landings a lot more interesting.

  2. You ought to listen into the approach frequencies for a major Class B like New York. Very little dead air, all very terse.

    I think you may be able to do that here.

  3. There's times where the SJC frequencies are like that. Around 7pm, for example, you start hearing a lot of very terse directions and responses on all three approach frequencies and the departure frequencies as all the evening flights start coming in or going out (the puddle-jumpers heading out to their final destination, the big jets coming in from the Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, SLC, and Denver hubs). It's very bursty though. The way the hub system works nowdays, everything's driven by how much time it takes to suck up the people needed to fill the big jets from the feeders, and then how long it takes a big jet to get here from the hubs. Luckily we're not ourself a hub, or I'd never get any rest from all the big jets thundering over my head day and night (I live under the end of the runway, about two miles away). We do have the local flights that head over to LAX or Seattle, and the puddle jumpers that make it from here to places like Eureka, but mostly it's the big jets to and from the hubs that make up most of our traffic.

    I'm going to see if I can stick a better antenna out my window and get more of the chatter from ground ops. I can occasionally get the tower and clearance, but not well. That just goes to show you how close I am to the airport, since they're not running high power or tall antennas.

    - Badtux the Listening Penguin


Ground rules: Comments that consist solely of insults, fact-free talking points, are off-topic, or simply spam the same argument over and over will be deleted. The penguin is the only one allowed to be an ass here. All viewpoints, however, are welcomed, even if I disagree vehemently with you.

WARNING: You are entitled to create your own arguments, but you are NOT entitled to create your own facts. If you spew scientific denialism, or insist that the sky is purple, or otherwise insist that your made-up universe of pink unicorns and cotton candy trees is "real", well -- expect the banhammer.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.