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.

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.


Initial Gulfstream G500 Test Flights

Savannah – It turns out that I’ve been listening to the initial test flights of Gulfstream’s new G500 jet and didn’t even realize it. My aviation is interest is mostly in the realm of military aviation, but I have found it interesting to listen to Gulfstream flight test ops over the years since their factory is here in Savannah. A recent news release (see below) from Gulfstream made me go back and look at my monitoring notes and Mode-S/ADS-B logs and I realize that I’ve caught some of those initial test flights!

On 10 August, Gulfstream announced that it had completed five test flights of their new G500 jet. I listen to some of their test flight operations and realized that I’d caught some of the G500 test flights on both Mode-S and the radios. N500GA (based on a Gulfstream news release and photo) is the test aircraft for the G500 and I’ve “seen” it up on Mode-S and ADS-B a number of times as A63A87 and heard it as GULFTEST 67. I’m guessing the callsign is test pilot related because that’s the only callsign I’ve seenheard A63A87/N500GA flying under. I also saw/heard it flying yesterday as GULFTEST 67, so the testing continues.

N500GA, the Gulfstream G500 test aircraft (photo from Gulfstream news release)
N500GA, the Gulfstream G500 test aircraft (photo from Gulfstream news release)

If you’re interested in listening out for Gulfstream’s test flights, keep an ear on these frequencies:

119.100 – Savannah IAP Tower
120.400 – Savannah Approach/Departure
125.300 – Savannah Approach/Departure
132.925 – Jax Center Allendale/Savannah Low
124.675 – Jax Center Jekyll Low
126.750 – Jax Center Brunswick Low
120.950 – Sealord North Primary VHF

123.200 – WCM9, Gulfstream

Many Gulfstream test flights are usually conducted off of and around the coastal Georgia area and are fairly easy to listen to as they take off from Savannah and go out to the offshore SUAs under SEALORD’s control. Most of the time the communications are fairly mundane, but you never know when you’ll catch something interesting by combining what you hear on the radio with what you’re seeing from a Mode-S receiver.

SAVANNAH, Georgia, August 10, 2015 — Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced that the Gulfstream G500 has completed five test flights since it first took to the skies on May 18.

During more than 15 hours of flying, the aircraft achieved a top speed of Mach 0.80 and a maximum altitude of 38,500 feet/11,735 meters. The aircraft’s longest flight was more than four hours.

Over the past several weeks, the aircraft has been undergoing planned modifications in preparation for returning to flight later this month.

“The first five flights exceeded our expectations,” said Dan Nale, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream. “And they demonstrated that our testing facilities on the ground are having very real benefits in the air, allowing us to identify and address issues before they’re ever seen in flight.”

Gulfstream announced the G500 and G600 family of aircraft on Oct. 14, 2014. Programs for both aircraft are progressing well. As the first G500 flight-test article undergoes modification, two more are preparing for flight and a fourth is in production. Additionally, the first G600 flight-test aircraft has begun the initial stages of production.

Together, the two programs have completed more than 36,000 hours of lab testing, and both the G600 integration test facility (ITF) and the G600 Iron Bird are now operational. The engines for the G500 and G600, the PW814GA and the PW815GA, respectively, were certified by Transport Canada in February.

The G500 and G600 offer an optimized combination of speed, wide-cabin comfort and efficiency providing best-in-class performance with advanced safety features.

The G500 has a range of 5,000 nautical miles/9,260 kilometers at Mach 0.85 or 3,800 nm/7,038 km at Mach 0.90, while the G600 can carry passengers 6,200 nm/11,482 km at Mach 0.85 and 4,800 nm/8,890 km at Mach 0.90. The maximum operating speed for both aircraft is Mach 0.925, the same maximum speed as Gulfstream’s G650 and G650ER.

The G500 and G600 also include Gulfstream’s all-new SymmetryTM Flight Deck, the most advanced, stylish, comfortable and intuitive flight deck in business aviation. The cutting-edge technology comes in the form of active control sidesticks (ACSs), integrated touchscreen controllers, next-generation enhanced vision system (EVS III), and Honeywell Primus Epic avionics.

The G500 and G600 cabins maximize comfort, with an industry-leading cabin altitude of 4,850 feet/1,578 meters at FL510 and 100 percent fresh air that boosts mental alertness and productivity while reducing fatigue.

Gulfstream anticipates certification of the G500 in 2017, with entry into service in 2018. The G600 certification is slated to follow in 2018, with entry into service in 2019.

Aviation Photos from Hunter AAF; 16/17 September 2014

Savannah – Just before noon today, there were number of fixed wing aircraft in the pattern at Hunter AAF so I decided to go find a spot and do a bit of aviation photography.  In addition to a 165th AW C-130H and VP-30 P-3C, which are regular visitors to the Hunter AAF pattern, there was also a C-27J. I found a good spot in the parking lot of the Savannah Centre shopping center at the intersection of Eisenhower and Hodgson Memorial and was able to take some photos of all three as well as one of 3rd Aviation Brigade’s new UH-60Ms. On the UH-60M photo, if you look closely next to the fuselage on the right hand side of the photo you can see a condensation trail from one of the helicopter’s rotor tips.

DAWG 02 (C-130H, 80-0321, 165th AW)
DAWG 02 (C-130H, 80-0321, 165th AW)
DAWG 02 (C-130H, 80-0321, 165th AW)
DAWG 02 (C-130H, 80-0321, 165th AW)
DAWG 02 (C-130H, 80-0321, 165th AW)
DAWG 02 (C-130H, 80-0321, 165th AW)
GECKO 13 (C-27J, 10-27028, US Army)
DAWG 02 (C-130H, 80-0321, 165th AW)
GECKO 13 (C-27J, 10-27028, US Army)
GECKO 13 (C-27J, 10-27028, US Army)
GECKO 13 (C-27J, 10-27028, US Army)
GECKO 13 (C-27J, 10-27028, US Army)


NAVY LL 03 (P-3C, 157329, VP-30)
NAVY LL 03 (P-3C, 157329, VP-30)
NAVY LL 03 (P-3C, 157329, VP-30)
NAVY LL 03 (P-3C, 157329, VP-30)
NAVY LL 03 (P-3C, 157329, VP-30)
NAVY LL 03 (P-3C, 157329, VP-30)
UH-60M, 3rd AVN Bde
UH-60M, 3rd AVN Bde

Yesterday, I also took some photos of a couple of aircraft on approach to Hunter AAF from the house.  Included below are also screen shots of the aircraft from the Mode-S receiver. One was NAVY LL 834, a P-8A from VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville.  VP-30 is the Fleet Replacement Squadron for the new P-8A and for the P-3 as seen above.  GULFTEST 54 was a test flight of a new Gulfstream G650, it hasn’t received its final paint yet.

NAVY LL 834 (P-8A, 168440, VP-30)
NAVY LL 834 (P-8A, 168440, VP-30)
Screen capture of NAVY LL 834 from the Mode-S Receiver while it was doing an approach at Hunter AAF
Screen capture of NAVY LL 834 from the Mode-S Receiver while it was doing an approach at Hunter AAF
GULFTEST 54 (G650, N619GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
GULFTEST 54 (G650, N619GA, Gulfstream Aerospace)
Screen Capture of GULFTEST 54 from the Mode-S Receiver while it was doing an approach at Hunter AAF
Screen Capture of GULFTEST 54 from the Mode-S Receiver while it was doing an approach at Hunter AAF