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.

Gulfstream Aircraft Return to Savannah-Hilton Head IAP from Lakeland, FL After Hurricane Florence

Savannah – Yesterday afternoon, I caught what seemed to be the return of Gulfstream Savannah Service Center aircraft from Hurricane Evacuation to Lakeland Florida due to Hurricane Florence. A few came in early in the day, but during the afternoon, the majority arrived one after the other. Watching with my Mode-S/ADS-B receiver, they practically formed a fishhook over Savannah as they came in from the south or southwest, turned just east of Savannah and headed for Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. I began catching them with Jacksonville Center on 135.975 (Alma High) after which they switched to 127.575 (Waycross Low) and 124.675 (Jekyll Low) before switching to 120.400 with Savannah Approach and then 119.100 with Savannah-Hilton Head IAP Tower. The ground guides at the Service Centers must have been pretty busy there for a little bit! I was also able to catch them checking in with the Gulfstream Service Center on 128.925 and being directed to either “GS1” or “GS2.”

All of the returning aircraft used the usual GULFTEST callsign:

GULFTEST 10 (G550, N540GA, USAF 645th AESG)
GULFTEST 14 (G450, N937BG, Solarius Aviation)
GULFTEST 17 (G650, N650AF, Vulcan Northwest Inc)
GULFTEST 25 (G550, N582GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 29 (G450, N275M, Bridges Porter)
GULFTEST 40 (G-VI, N650MT, Bank of Utah Trustee)
GULFTEST 44 (G-IV, N401FT, Executive Jet Shares)
GULFTEST 48 (G450, M-LFBB, Oviation Two Ltd)
GULFTEST 58 (G550, VP-CLK, Great Prespa Ltd)
GULFTEST 75 (G550, N579GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 89 (G650, N282GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 93 (G650, N766GA, R94924 LLC)
GULFTEST 96 (G550, N526GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)

Military Monitoring enthusiasts will probably take notice of GULFSTREAM 10; it was definitely one that caught my attention as I looked up the N-Numbers of the returning aircraft.

3rd Combat Aviation Brigade Aircraft Update; 6 September 2018

Savannah – Last week I posted about Hunter AAF’s 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade flying again after their return from a deployment; this week I’ve got an update to the list of aircraft I began in that post. Since then, I’ve heard a few more new aircraft, so the list has grown. Thanks to information from readers about the fiscal years, this update also changes the question marks in some of the tail numbers to fiscal years and more monitoring opportunities have firmed up some unit associations.

ARMY 26458, UH-60L, 92-26458, A/2-3 AVN?)
ARMY 26482 (UH-60L, 93-26482, A/2-3 AVN?)
ARMY 26587 (UH-60L, 94-26587, A/2-3 AVN?)1
ARMY 26596 (UH-60L, 95-26596, A/2-3 AVN?)1
ARMY 26812 (UH-60L, 98-26812, A/2-3 AVN)
ARMY 26830 (UH-60L, 99-26830, A/2-3 AVN)
ARMY 26841 (UH-60L, 99-26841, A/2-3 AVN)
ARMY 27055 (UH-60L, 05-27055, A/2-3 AVN)
ARMY 08171 (CH-47F, 14-08171, B/2-3 AVN?)
ARMY 08454 (CH-47F, 14-08454, B/2-3 AVN?)
ARMY 08455 (CH-47F, 14-08455, B/2-3 AVN?)
ARMY 08456 (CH-47F, 14-08456, B/2-3 AVN?)
ARMY 08457 (CH-47F, 14-08457, B/2-3 AVN?)
ARMY 08460 (CH-47F, 14-08460, B/2-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20505 (HH-60M, 12-20505, C/2-3 AVN)2
ARMY 20615 (HH-60M, 13-20615, C/2-3 AVN)
ARMY 20616 (HH-60M, 13-20616, C/2-3 AVN)

ARMY 35395 (AH-64D, 03-05395, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 35403 (AH-64D, 03-05403, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 75518 (AH-64D, 07-05518, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 77045 (AH-64D, 07-07045, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 77046 (AH-64D, 07-07046, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 87048 (AH-64D, 08-07048, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 95591 (AH-64D, 09-05591, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 95592 (AH-64D, 09-05592, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 95593 (AH-64D, 09-05593, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 95602 (AH-64D, 09-05602, 3-17 CAV)
ARMY 95604 (AH-64D, 09-05604, 3-17 CAV)

ARMY 20354 (UH-60M, 11-20354, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20358 (UH-60M, 11-20358, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20360 (UH-60M, 11-20360, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20362 (UH-60M, 11-20362, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20366 (UH-60M, 11-20366, 4-3 AVN)2
ARMY 20387 (UH-60M, 11-20387, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20388 (UH-60M, 11-20388, 4-3 AVN)2
ARMY 20392 (UH-60M, 11-20392, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20395 (UH-60M, 11-20395, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20397 (UH-60M, 11-20397, 4-3 AVN)22
ARMY 20402 (UH-60M, 11-20402, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20404 (UH-60M, 11-20404, 4-3 AVN)2
ARMY 20409 (UH-60M, 11-20409, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20416 (UH-60M, 11-20416, 4-3 AVN)2
ARMY 20422 (UH-60M, 11-20422, 4-3 AVN)2
ARMY 20450 (UH-60M, 12-20450, 4-3 AVN?)
ARMY 20455 (UH-60M, 12-20455, 4-3 AVN)2
ARMY 20458 (UH-60M, 12-20458, 4-3 AVN)2
ARMY 20460 (UH-60M, 12-20460, 4-3 AVN?)

As I hear more 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade aircraft and am able to identify them, I’ll add them to the list and post more updates. As always, updates and corrections are requested.

  1. 94-26587 and 95-26596 were previously heard as A/2-3 AVN aircraft until 2009 but unheard between 2009 and 2018. I’m guessing both are still A/2-3 AVN aircraft because C/2-3 AVN converted to the HH-60M and 4-3 AVN converted to the UH-60M.
  2. The unit associations for these aircraft are based on traffic heard on other frequencies including Base Ops and Battalion Ops frequencies.

Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter Flights To and From Charleston

Savannah – Maybe I’ve just been around the radios at the last over the last month or so, but I’ve been hearing the Boeing 747 LCFs (Large Cargo Freighter) operated by Atlas Air carrying sections Boeing 787s to the North Charleston assembly facility. These flights are easily heard from Savannah and be tracked on any of the flight tracking apps (see the screenshots below); listen out for GIANT 4### callsigns. Usually coming from or going to Everett Field in Washington or Nagoya, Japan, you can hear the flights check in as they approach Charleston or check out as they depart Charleston with Boeing Ops on 123.325. As far as air traffic control goes, 127.875 is usually a good Jacksonville Center frequency to catch them on and they usually use 120.700 with Charleston Approach/Departure. Yesterday and this morning, GIANT 4536 (B747 LCF, N249BA, Atlas Air) arrived from Everett Field and GIANT 4316 (B747 LCF, N747BC, Atlas Air) departed for Anchorage.


There are only four LCFs in existence and so far I’ve heard three of the four: N249BA, N708BA, and N747BC. Only N718BA remains to be caught!

You can also hear 787 Dreamliner test flights out of Charleston from Savannah. Using BOEING ### callsigns (abbreviated BOE on flight tracker apps and on Mode-S/ADS-B), you can hear them on 123.325 with Boeing Ops as well. For air traffic control, you can hear them on 132.925, 126.125, 132.425, 134.375, and 127.875 with Jacksonville Center and 120.700 with Charleston Approach/Departure. If you hear a BOEING ## callsign on those air traffic control frequencies, you’re probably hearing a C-17 returning to Charleston AFB from depot level maintenance.

Listening to Gulfstream Aerospace G500 and G600 Testing

SavannahGulfstream Aerospace is well along in flight testing of their new G500 and G600 models. Both aircraft are being built at and tested out of Gulfstream’s factory in Savannah at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. If you live near the Georgia coast, you can hear some of the testing activity of these aircraft if you know what to listen for and where to listen for them at. You can also track them on Mode-S/ADS-B while you listen to them. Using Mode-S to identify the flights is actually the best way to identify a Gulfstream test flight as a G500 or G600 instead of another aircraft undergoing flight testing.

What do you need to listen for? First, you need to listen out for the flight testing callsign: GULFTEST ##. They almost always use GULFTEST whether they’re testing a G500 of G600, a G550 or G650, or an older aircraft that’s been in for service. On Mode-S or in Flight Aware, the callsign will show as GLF##. After you’ve found the right GLF## flight, look for an aircraft type of GA5C, which is the G500 or GA6C, which is the G600. They almost always have ADS-B turned on, so you can track their flight path as they do their test flights. To date, I’ve tracked seven G500s and five G600s, here are their N-Numbers and Mode-S codes:

N500GA (A63A87)
N502GS (A64205)
N503G (A645AB)
N504GS (A64973)
N505GD (A64D1D)
N507GD (A6548B)
N511GD (A665C0)

N600G (A7C7D5)
N601GA (A7CB8D)
N720GD (A9A426)
N730GD (A9CBA5)
N740GD (A9F324)

ADS-B plot for GULFTEST 06 (G600, N600G, Gulfstream Aerospace) with GULFTEST 67 (G500, N500GA, Gulfstream Aerospace) also appearing

Where do you listen for them at? Most of the test flights take place off of the Georgia coast, so the local air traffic control frequencies for Savannah and the coastal area including Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport as well as SEALORD primary frequencies for offshore SUAs are your best bet and are listed below. Sometimes, the test flights are over land or are cross-country flights, so Jax Center and Atlanta Center frequencies are your best bets then. The Jax Center and Atlanta Center frequencies that can easily be heard from the Savannah area are listed on my MilAir page. The test flights can also be heard on two Gulfstream frequencies which are listed below.

119.100 – Savannah IAP Tower
124.975 – Hunter AAF Tower
123.000 – Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport
120.400 – Savannah Approach/Departure
125.300 – Savannah Approach/Departure
124.675 – Jacksonville Center Jekyll Low
126.125 – Jacksonville Cener Statesboro High
126.750 – Jacksonville Center Brunswick Low
132.425 – Jacksonville Center Hunter High
132.925 – Jacksonville Center Allendale Low
120.950 – SEALORD North Primary
123.200 – WCM9, Gulfstream Aerospace
123.350 – GULFTEST Air-to-Air

The Gulfstream flight testing is something you can listen to with almost any inexpensive scanner (almost all of them these days have VHF airband coverage). Amateur radio operators can also listen to them with a lot of 2m/70cm radios since many rigs that have those bands also offer extended receive in the VHF airband range. Most of the testing also takes place over 10,000 ft, so it’s not hard to hear with handheld radios, especially if you use something like the Diamond RH77CA. Even though most of the aviation activity I listen to is military aviation, I still enjoy monitoring the Gulfstream testing and catching the new G500s and G600s as they start testing.