Savannah – Over the last year, I’ve had hits on a mystery Mode-S code, AE0441, that I haven’t been able to identify. I have never been able to tie it to anything I’ve heard on local air traffic control or Jacsksonville ARTCC frequencies (altitudes shown indicated it would have been on local ATC or area Jax ARTCC low sector frequencies). Online research hasn’t been able to identify it either. I’ve seen AE0441 on the Mode-S receiver seven times since January 2015:
- 14 Jan 2015, 1835z-1847z, start altitude 7750 ft, ending altitude 7725 ft
- 15 Jan 2015, 1823z-1839z, start altitude 8675 ft, ending altitude 8750 ft
- 21 Jan 2015, 1611z-1622z, start altitude 4575 ft, ending altitude 4550 ft
- 22 Jan 2015, 1642z-1651z, start altitude 3610 ft, ending altitude 3585 ft
- 20 Feb 2015, 1806z-1857z, start altitude 5475 ft, ending altitude 6500 ft
- 6 Dec 2015, 1343z-1351z , start altitude 11525 ft, ending altitude 11525 ft
- 24 Jan 2016, 1416z-1427z, start altitude 7750 ft, ending altitude 11525 ft
In addition to that info, the live-military-mode-s website shows hits on AE0441 in Orlando, FL, Oviedo, FL, and Hampton, VA. Orlando happens to be the other location in showed in for the today’s hit (24 Jan 2016). Perhaps Orlando and Oviedo (6 Dec 2015 and 24 Jan 2016) could indicate it was something coming out of or operating near MacDill AFB or CGAS Clearwater? Perhaps the Hampton hits (12 Jan 2016 and 13 Jan 2016) were something coming out of or operating out of NAS Norfolk?
This morning (24 Jan 2016) when I was seeing it, once again I couldn’t hear aircaft on Savannah Approach/Departure, ZJX Brunswick Low, ZJX Jekyll Low, or ZJX Savannah Low that I could have tied it to. I did, however, hear Savannah Approach point out and unidentified aircraft to an aircraft they were controlling; that aircraft responded that they could see “a rotary wing of some sort.” Given that there Mode-S hits near CGAS Clearwater and NAS Norfolk, that could gel with a helicopter, but when I look at the data above, it seems that 7750, 8675, and 11525 ft altitudes could be a bit high for a helicopter. The “rotary wing of some sort” description may not have even been directed at AE0441 for all I know.
Out of curiosity, I checked some codes around it; AE0440 is also an unidentified code, but AE0442 is a CN-235 with the 427th SOS and AE0443 is a 108th Wing C-32B. Based on that, I don’t think there is anything to be pulled out of a pattern on the Mode-S code assignments.
In short, AE0441 is still a mystery. If anyone has any ideas or information, I’d love to hear it!