Hurricane Michael Notes and Observations (Updated 14 October 2018)

Note: Post Updated with some observations from Saturday, 13 October 2018

Savannah – Unfortunately the southeast has seen its second catastrophic hurricane this season. Just a month after Hurricane Florence devastated the Carolinas, Hurricane Michael brought destruction upon the Florida panhandle and southwest Georgia. Earlier this week, Hurricane Michael came ashore at Mexico Beach as a Category 4 (almost Category 5) storm, destroying the town and surrounding areas then tore into southwest Georgia while still a Category 3 storm. Due to the track of the storm across Georgia, the 165th AW C-130s and some of Gulfstream’s aircraft at Savannah evacuated the area, returning yesterday. The devastation wrought by Michael necessitated federal and military response similar to that of Hurricane Florence last month.

Gulfstream Savannah’s aircraft appeared to evacuate to Huntsville, AL just as they did during Florence. On Wednesday, 10 October while I was in Brunswick, I caught some of the Gulfstreams leaving Savannah: GULFTEST 11 (G500, N500GA, Gulfstream Aerospace), GULFTEST 90 (G650, N656GA, Gulfstream Aerospace), and GULFTEST 51 (G600, N601GA, Gulfstream Aerospace). Yesterday, after I got back to Savannah from Brunswick, I heard 12 Gulfstream and Gulfstream customer aircraft return from Huntsville. No doubt due to problems caused by Michael, these aircraft came back to Savannah from the northwest instead of the southwest like they did after Florence; I caught them on 132.925 with Jacksonville Center to 125.300 with Savannah Approach/Departure, then to Savannah Tower on 119.100. One of them also checked in with the Gulfstream Service Center on 128.925 prior to its arrival. (I didn’t catch two of the aircraft on Mode-S so I’m not sure what their registrations were)

GULFTEST 10 (G500, N500GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 20 (G500, N509GD, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 29 (G550, N584GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 33 (G650, N282GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 51 (G600, N601GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 62 (B-LWX, G-450, TAG Aviation Asia)
GULFTEST 62 (G450, N401SR, Gulfstream Leasing)
GULFTEST 64 (G650, N655GD, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 66 (B-8127, G-450, Private)
GULFTEST 83 (Gulfstream Hurrevac Flight)
GULFTEST 90 (G550, N582GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 97 (Gulfstream Hurrevac Flight)

I’m not sure where the 165th AW’s C-130s evacuated to, but yesterday, I heard four of their aircraft arriving back in Savannah in from the north following the same sequence of frequencies that the Gulfstreams did. Additionally, they checked in on 225.750 with squadron operations and were using 225.050 for air-to-air traffic.

DAWG 06 (C-130H3, 94-6706, 165th AW)
DAWG 08 (C-130H3, 94-6708, 165th AW)
DAWG 61 (C-130H3, 93-1561, 165th AW)
DAWG 63 (C-130H3, 95-1563, 165th AW)

The Federal and Military response to Hurricane Michael has so far been very similar to that from Hurricane Florence. I’m too far away from southwest Georgia and the Florida panhandle to hear any of it, but I did catch one military aircraft going to the area from Savannah and saw some aviation assets working in the area on ADS-B Exchange.  Just as during Florence, those aviation assets were C3I and ISR aircraft. Yesterday morning, SHADY 11 (MC-12S-2, 09-00642, 224th MI Bn) departed Hunter AAF to the southwest and later in the morning I saw it on ADS-B exchange doing orbits in the area of Panama City and Apalachicola, FL. In addition to the MC-12S-2, I also noted two US Customs and Border Patrol P-3 AEWC aircraft (N142CS and N146CS) working in the area and a USAF E-3 AWACS.

On Saturday, while taking a look at the Florida panhandle and southwest on Georgia on ADS-B Exchange, I noticed something interesting around Albany and Tifton, GA. N19HX, a Helicopter Express Bell 206L-3 helicopter, had come from around Tifton (probably out of the airport in Tifton) and begun working just south of Albany. N41HX, a Helicopter Express Bell 407 helicopter was working south of Tifton, roughly around I-75. Based out of Atlanta, Helicopter Express is a contractor that provides helicopter services for a variety of purposes, disaster relief being one of them. Given where they were working, I’d have to guess that they were part of the Hurricane Michael response. With the flight paths that were plotted on ADS-B Exchange, I’d guess that both aircraft are working out of Henry Tift Myers Airport in Tifton.

Thankfully, those of us in southeast Georgia came through Michael with few problems, as the storm moved through the state a bit more to the northwest of us than it could have. The people in the Florida panhandle and southwest Georgia, however, are suffering. Don’t forget that people in those areas are some of those that helped us after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma; it’s our turn to help them.

Please keep the people of the Florida panhandle and southwest Georgia in your prayers and help with donations or contributions as you can. Many will remain out of their homes for quite a while and have lost most if not all of what they had.

Crash of 156th Airlift Wing WC-130H in Savannah, GA

Savannah – I wasn’t in Savannah or awake to hear any of the communications surrounding the Puerto Rico Air National Guard 156th Airlift Wing WC-130 that crashed earlier this week, but still thought I needed to write up some sort of post about it. Before I go any further, my condolences go out to the family, friends, and fellow servicemembers of the aircraft’s crew. After all that Puerto Rico has gone through in the last year and all that ANG has done to serve and support the people of Puerto Rico, it’s terribly sad to lose them this way.


In remembrance of the crew of WC-130H 65-0968 which crashed in Savannah, GA on 2 May 2018: “…with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod the high untrespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand and touched the face of God.” (photo not of 65-0968)


News Reports:

WC-130H 65-0968 crashed on 2 May 2018 shortly after departing from Savannah International Airport. It crashed onto Georgia Highway 21 in Port Wentworth; news reports and the location of the crash near the approach end of Runway 28 indicate that the crew was trying to get the aircraft back to Savannah IAP after experiencing some sort of problem on or after takeoff. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it back; 65-0968 spiraled into the highway before they could make it back and sadly all nine of the crew aboard perished. The crew was able to keep the aircraft from crashing into any homes or businesses in the area and by the grace of God, there was no traffic on Highway 21 under 65-0968 when it crashed. Emergency response from the Air National Guard 165th Airlift Wing Crash/Fire units at Savannah International Airport quickly responded as did surrounding Fire Departments and Ambulance Services. Air National Guard personnel from the 165th AW and USAF personnel from Charleston AFB and Dover AFB are on scene conducting recovery and investigation operations. Interestingly enough, 65-0968 used to be a 165th AW aircraft prior to its assignment to the 156th AW in Puerto Rico.

Georgia Highway 21 remains closed between the Jimmy Deloach Parkway and Georgia Highway 307 and will remain so for quite awhile. The investigation will have to be completed then the remains of the aircraft removed and the area cleaned up. Then Georgia DOT will have to inspect the roadway and complete any repairs needed. DOT has set up a detour using the Jimmy DeLoach Parkway between Highway 21 and Highway 307 to re-route traffic.

This tragedy has an amateur radio connection as well. The ARRL reported that Master Sgt. Eric Circuns was amateur radio operator WP4OXB.

Hurricane Maria Relief Flights Continue from the Savannah Air Dominance Center

Savannah – The Georgia Air Nationa Guard Air Dominance Center at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, which normally supports training for 4th and 5th generation fighters, continues to operate as a hub for transporting Hurricane Maria relief supplies to Puerto Rico and other US Caribbean territories. The operation at the Air Dominance Center continues to be mostly C-130Hs and C-130Js both bringing supplies into Savannah and transporting them out to Puerto Rico and other territories with flights arriving and departing 24/7. On their return trips from the Caribbean, they can often be heard bringing passengers back. Air National Guard personnel and aircraft from thirteen states have been taking part in the operation; so far I’ve heard aircraft from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and West Virginia.  I’m sure there have been other states participating as well, but I haven’t had many chances to listen to the ops; these are only what I’ve heard coming in and out of the ADC over the last couple of weeks:

  • CASTLE – C-130H, 166th AW, Delaware ANG
  • DAWG – C-130H, 165th AW, Georgia ANG
  • DECOY – C-17A, 167th AW, West Virginia ANG
  • DERBY – C-130H, 123rd AW, Kentucky ANG
  • EPIC – C-130H, 145th AW, North Carolina ANG
  • JESSE – C-130H, 139th AW, Missouri ANG
  • MALIBU – C-130J, 146th AW, California ANG
  • RHODY – C-130J, 147th AW, Rhode Island ANG
  • ROPER – C-130H, 136th AW, Texas ANG
  • SKIER – C-130H, 109th AW, New York ANG
  • SKULL – C-130H, 179thth AW, Ohio ANG
  • TORCH – C-130H, 182nd AW, Illinois ANG
  • YANKEE – C-130H, 103rd AW, Connecticut ANG

Savannah and coastal Georgia area air traffic control frequencies along with normal Savannah Air Dominance Center frequencies continue to be the best places to catch the aircraft flying Hurricane Maria relief missions out of Savannah. The last frequency below is a P25 repeater used by the 165th AW, but it has been being used by MARIA Ops out of the ADC to coordinate logistics and maintenance for the aircraft flying out of the ADC. The VHF/UHF aviation frequencies are AM and can be heard using any radio that can pick up VHF or UHF airband in the AM mode.

  • 124.675 – Jacksonville Center Jekyll Low
  • 132.925 – Jacksonville Center Allendale/Savannah Low
  • 119.100 – Savannah-Hilton Head IAP Tower
  • 120.400 – Savannah Approach/Departure
  • 125.300 – Savannah Approach/Departure
  • 225.750 – 165th Airlift Wing Ops
  • 237.000 – Air Dominance Center Ops; “MARIA Ops” and “TEAL Ops”
  • 173.5625 – 165th Airlift Wing (NAC 302)

Based on what I’ve seen in the news, it looks like the Hurricane Maria relief ops will continue out of the Savannah Air Dominance Center through this month. I’m proud that my adopted hometown and state are providing such a service to Puerto Rico and the other Caribbean territories during their time of need.

165th AW and Savannah Air Dominance Center Support Hurricane Maria Relief

Savannah – The 165th Airlift Wing and the Air Dominance Center at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport are supporting Hurricane Maria relief through a hub and spoke operation. Aircraft are both bringing in supplies to Savannah and transporting them out to Puerto Rico and other locations in the Caribbean. Air National Guard aircraft and personnel from multiple states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, and West Virginia. Most of the aircraft operating out of Savannah are C-130s (both H and J models), but one C-17 came in today as well.

  • DAWG 87 (C-130H, 165th AW)
  • DAWG 88 (C-130H3, 94-6705, 165th AW)
  • CASTLE 33 (C-130H, 90-1057, 166th AW)
  • CASTLE 77 (C-130H, 84-0206, 166th AW)
  • DERBY 61 (C-130H, 91-1233, 123rd AW)
  • JESSE 94 (C-130H, 90-1794, 139th AW)
  • JESSE 95 (C-130H, 90-1795, 139th AW)
  • MALIBU 17 (C-130J, 05-1466, 146th AW)
  • MALIBU 19 (C-130J, 07-1468, 146th AW)
  • RHODY 32 (C-130J, 99-1432, 143rd AW)
  • SKIER 02 (C-130H, 83-0487, 109th AW)
  • YANKEE 02 (C-130H, 74-2069, 103rd AW)
  • DECOY 29 (C-17A, 94-0070, 167th AW)

The relief flights are easily monitored on VHF and UHF in the Savannah area. You can catch the flights coming and going on local air traffic control frequencies as well as the 165th AW and Air Dominance Center operations frequencies. Most of the aircraft have been reporting to MARIA Ops on the Air Dominance Center ops frequency 237.000, but a few have reported on 225.750, which is the 165th AW Ops frequency.

  • 124.675 – Jacksonville Center Jekyll Low
  • 132.925 – Jacksonville Center Allendale/Savannah Low
  • 119.100 – Savannah-Hilton Head IAP Tower
  • 120.400 – Savannah Approach/Departure
  • 125.300 – Savannah Approach/Departure
  • 225.750 – 165th Airlift Wing Ops
  • 237.000 – Air Dominance Center Ops; “MARIA Ops” and “TEAL Ops”
  • 173.5625 – 165th Airlift Wing

In addition to the C-130s doing relief operations, WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron are working out of Savannah-Hilton Head IAP for flights into Hurricane Maria as passes off of the east coast. At least four of the WC-130Js are or have been at Savannah: 97-5305, 97-5307, 97-5308, and 97-5309, flying as TEAL 7# and 8#. They can be caught on the same frequencies as the relief aircraft but will call TEAL Ops instead of MARIA Ops. Today’s Hurricane Hunter flights have been:

  • TEAL 71 (WC-130J, 99-5309, 53rd WRS)
  • TEAL 73 (WC-130J, 99-5309, 53rd WRS)
  • TEAL 74 (WC-130J, 97-5305, 53rd WRS)
  • TEAL 81 (WC-130J, 98-5308, 53rd WRS)

An Army communications unit, the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion, has also deployed equipment and personnel to Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria so devastated the communications infrastructure in Puerto Rico that it is almost impossible to communicate not only outside of the islands but within as well. Units such as the 63rd ESB and amateur radio operators that are being asked to volunteer in Puerto Rico will be able to establish and provide communications that are needed to facilitate relief operations. REACH 0532 (C-17A, 90-0532, 62nd AW) arrived at Hunter AAF in the early hours of this morning and departed again shortly thereafter, I believe it was part of the 63rd ESB’s deployment.

The aircraft and flights I listed above are just today’s activity. Based on the needs in Puerto Rico and other US territories in the Caribbean, we can expect the hub and spoke operation in Savannah to be in operation for the foreseeable future. The need in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean is great and as a Georgian and Savannahian, I’m proud that our Guardsmen and Savannah are playing such a key role in bringing aid to those in need.

New 165th AW C-130s – Update 1

Savannah – Back on 8 December, I posted the first list of the 165th Airlift Wing’s new C-130s and promised updates as more arrived; here is the first of those updates. Based on last month’s monitoring and Mode-S logs, the fourth new C-130H arrived during December. Interestingly, all of them have AD#### Mode-S codes as opposed to the usual U.S. Military AE####, so that’s something to look for if you’re in the Savannah area and hunting for them on a Mode-S receiver. The four new aircraft are former Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and Air National Guard (ANG) aircraft from Colorado, Illinois, and West Virginia:

  • 92-0548 – C-130H, former 182nd AW, IL ANG aircraft (Mode-S ADFE83)
  • 94-6705 – C-130H-3, former 130th AW, WV ANG aircraft (Mode-S ADFDEA)
  • 94-6708 – C-130H-3, former 130th AW, WV ANG aircraft (Mode-S ADFDED)
  • 94-7321 – C-130H-3, former  302nd AW, AFRC aircraft (Mode-S ADFEA1)

As far as the remaining FY 80 aircraft go, it looks like the remaining ones are:

  • 80-0320 (Mode-S AE05FF)
  • 80-0323 (Mode-S AE0602)
  • 80-0324 (Mode-S AE0603)
  • 80-0325 (Mode-S AE0604)

I’m fairly certain that 80-0322 departed from Savannah IAP for the last time as DAWG 35 on 7 December 2015, but I didn’t catch its destination. As the other four arrive and go into service with the 165th, I’ll post updates with the tail numbers and Mode-S codes. As always, any additional information is welcome – I’ll post corrections as necessary or include information in the next update.