Savannah – On Monday morning, I got an interesting catch on both Air Traffic Control frequencies and Mode-S/ADS-B. First, I heard AUSSY 181 on 349.400 calling Palmetto Ops at Charleston AFB followed by them showing up on 124.675 and 132.925 with Jacksonville ARTCC. The accent from the radio operator on 349.400 and the pilot on VHF left no doubt that it was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft, but I wasn’t sure what type. RAAF MH-60s have been in the area in the past as crews trained at NAS Jacksonville, but this definitely wasn’t a helicopter. Australian accents aren’t out of the ordinary because of personnel also training at NAS Jacksonville with VP-30, but it didn’t strike me that it might be an RAAF P-8A, my first impression was that it might be an RAAF C-17 since it was calling Palmetto Ops. My question was answered when Mode-S Code 7CF9CD popped up the RadarBox.
7CF9CD is the third RAAF P-8A, serial A47-003, to be delivered. I would guess that it’s on the east coast perhaps working out of NAS Jacksonville for training; if it was going home to Australia, I would think it would have gone across the Pacific from the West Coast. They arranged for parking with Palmetto Ops at Charleston AFB prior to arrival, but nothing was said about how long they would be there nor was there a fuel request or crew transport so there was no indication of how long they’ll be at Charleston (there is some audio from 349.400 below the ADS-B track above). If you interested in Military Aviation or are a spotter, it would definitely be worth keeping an ear an eye to the sky to see if it operates in the area for awhile.
It actually turned out to be a pretty good day for catching P-8A activity. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, I caught a number of VP-5, VP-10, and VP-45 flights along with VP-30 training flights. Several of them departed NAS Jacksonville, went out to offshore Warning Areas with SEALORD on 120.950, then went up to Robins AFB (presumably for pattern work) passing Savannah on the way (using 124.675, 132.925, and 126.125 with Jacksonville ARTCC). On the way back, one of them presented me with a photo opportunity.
PELICAN 13 (P-8A, 168761, VP-45) came back by Savannah on it’s way back to NAS Jacksonville and did a few approaches at Hunter AAF on 124.975 with Hunter Tower. They were using Runway 28 at Hunter today, so on approach PELICAN 13 passed near my neighborhood. I went outside with the Canon and took a few photos as it went by on its first approach, including the one above.