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.

Hurricane Florence Related USCG and Military Aviation Activity; 16 September 2018

Savannah – Yesterday, things seemed to get somewhat back to normal for air traffic. The air traffic along the coast was heavier than it was the last few days and although some aircraft were taking alternate routes, they didn’t seem to be as wide as they had been. Military and Federal support for Hurricane Florence operations seemed to increase as well, with C-17s, C-130s of various types, E-3s, E-8s, HC-144s, MC-12s, MH-60s, MH-65s, and CBP P-8s participating. CBP P-8 AEWs were over the area for most of the day, E-8 JSTARS were over the area for most of the day, and an AWACS was over the area for part of the day. KC-135s also flew tanker support for the E-8s. ISR and C3I resources such as the E-3s, E-8s, and P-3 AEWs were in heavy use; a CBP P-3 “Slick” flew a mission over the area and an MC-12S out of Hunter AAF also flew two missions over the area. Those resources are important warfighting resources, but they’re also proving to be our tax dollars at work providing an important service for communities under hardship from disaster. (Once again, most of the tracking images below are from the ADS-B Exchange tracker because the majority of the activity is outside of the range of my receiver.)

SNTRY 25 9-16-18
SENTRY 25 (E-3C, 82-0006, 552nd ACW) orbiting over coastal North Carolina
PHENOM 06 (E-8C, 96-0043, 116th/461st ACW) orbiting over coastal North Carolina
PHENOM 08 (E-8C, 00-2000, 116th/461st ACW) on its way to the South Carolina/North Carolina area
PHENOM 06 (E-8C, 96-0043, 116th/461st ACW) moving to aerial refuel with NATION 16 (KC-135R, 59-1461, 128th ARW) over western Virginia
SHADY 60 (MC-12S-2, 09-00642, 224th MI Bn) departing Hunter AAF for a Hurricane Florence mission
SHADY29 Myrtle
SHADY 29 (MC-12S-2, 09-00642, 224th MI Bn) working over Myrtle Beach, SC on a Hurricane Florence mission

There were two USCG flights that got promoted via social media and/or DVIDS yesterday that I was able to hear parts of and follow part of via Mode-S/ADS-B tracking. COAST GUARD 1503 (HC-130H, 1503, CGAS Clearwater) was providing logistical support to Coast Guard helicopter operations, including a stop at Air Station Savannah, which is located at Hunter AAF. COAST GUARD 2311 (HC-144A, 2311, CGAS Miami) came up from Air Station Miami and flew a Hurricane Florence damage assessment mission. (Photos below are from the DVIDS website)

1000w_q95 (1)
Coast Guard crew members board an HC-144 Ocean Sentry in Charleston, South Carolina, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018. Waterways assessments were conducted to evaluate the damage caused by Tropical Storm Florence. (U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicole J. Groll)
USCG Air Station Clearwater C-130 Hercules aircraft prepares to depart to Air Station Elizabeth City to better assist the impacted areas caused by Hurricane Florence, Sept. 16, 2018. The Hercules is carrying aircrews, maintenance crews, an MH-60 Helo Support kit and pallets of tools and extra mechanical parts on this particular flight. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Romero)

For the most part, I’ve only been able to monitor assets going to and from the area affected by Hurricane Florence due to my distance away from them, but I have been keeping a list of frequencies and callsigns that may be useful. The list below includes what I was able to monitor on 14-16 September from the Savannah area, so it’s nothing close to being comprehensive (but it should be a good place to start). Note the use of VTAC-11, one of the nationwide interoperability frequencies; its use is one of the reasons it’s always a good idea to keep them in your radio, you never know when they may be called into use.

163.1375 ($293) – CG 113, USCG Station Tybee
171.2375 ($293) – CG 127, USCG Sector Charleston
413.0000 ($293) – CG 410, USCG Sector Charleston Air Ops
345.0000 – USCG
166.4625 ($001) – CBP Common
136.3750 – CBP
151.1375 – VTAC 11

225.750 – 165th AW Ops
228.225 – Moody AFB “ANGEL Ops”
237.000 – Savannah ADC Ops
293.525 – 116th/461st ACW “PEACHTREE Ops”
349.400 – Charleston AFB “PALMETTO Ops”
134.100 – Charleston AFB “PALMETTO Ops”
260.900 – NORAD Discrete
238.9000 – Aerial Refueling
283.900 – AR-601
148.125 (PL 107.2/$403) – SC CAP Repeater R21

Air Traffic Control
119.100/257.800 – Savannah-Hilton Head IAP Tower
124.975/279.575 – Hunter AAF Tower
120.400/353.775 – Savannah Approach/Departure
125.300/371.875 – Savannah Approach/Departure
125.125/292.125 – Beaufort Approach/Departure
120.700/306.925 – Charleston Approach/Departure
126.750/277.400 – Jax Center Brunswick Low
127.575/269.025 – Jacksonville Center Waycross Low
127.875/319.200 – Jax Center Aiken High
132.925/363.200 – Jacksonville Center Allendale/Savannah Low
133.300/346.300 – JacksonvilleCenter Moultrie Ultra High
133.700/323.300 – Jacksonville Center Baxley Low
134.375/317.550 – Jax Center Charleston Low
135.975/282.300 – Jacksonville Center Alma High

COAST GUARD 1503 (HC-130H, 1503, CGAS Clearwater)
COAST GUARD 2005 (HC-130J, 2005, CGAS Elizabeth City)
COAST GUARD 2311 (HC-144A, 2311, CGAS Miami)
COAST GUARD 6012 (MH-60T, 6012, CGAS Clearwater)
COAST GUARD 6030 (MH-60T, 6030, CGAS Clearwater)
COAST GUARD 6544 (MH-65D, 6544, CGAS Savannah)
COAST GUARD 6547 (MH-65D, 6547, CGAS Savannah)
COAST GUARD 6567 (MH-65D, 6567, CGAS Savannah)
HOBBY 11 (C-130J, 05-8157, 403rd AW)
KING 03 (HC-130N, 90-2103, 39th RQS)
KING 15 (HC-130J, 09-5708, 79th RQS)
KOMODO 04/STRIKESTAR (E-8C, 96-0043, 116th/461st ACW)
N108F (B350, N108F, US DHS); cleared to NAS Jax
NATION 01 (KC-10A, 86-0035, 305th AMW)
NATION 16 (KC-135R, 59-1461, 128th ARW)
NATION 26 (KC-135R, 63-7993, 121st ARW)
OMAHA 42 (P-3 AEW, N142CS, CBP)
OMAHA 44 (P-3 AEW, N144CS, CBP)
OMAHA 80 (P-3B, N480SK, CBP)
PHENOM 06 (E-8C, 96-0043, 116th/461st ACW)
PHENOM 08 (E-8C, 00-2000, 116th/461st ACW)
REACH 102H (C-17A, 07-7187, 437th/315th AW)
REACH 1099 (C-17A, 02-1099, 437th/315th AW)
SHADY 29 (MC-12S-2, 09-00642, 224th MI Bn)
SHADY 60 (MC-12S-2, 09-00642, 224th MI Bn)
TEAL 71 (WC-130J, 97-5306, 53rd WRS)
TEAL 73 (WC-130J, 96-5302, 53rd WRS)
TEAL 81 (WC-130J, 97-5306, 53rd WRS)
USCGC Chinook (WPB 87308)
USCGC Cormorant (WPB 87313)
SENTRY ## (E-3, 552nd ACW)

Hurricane Florence Related USCG and Military Aviation Activity; 15 September 2018

Savannah – By yesterday, the WC-130J flights to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Florence (now Tropical Depression Florence) had ended and rescue/communications/coordination flights to the South Carolina/North Carolina area were underway. A US Air Force E-8 JSTARS and E-3 AWACS supported rescue/response efforts yesterday along with a US Customs and Border Patrol P-3 AEW. US Air Force HC-130s seemed to be playing a role as well, and a Joint Base Charleston-based C-17 was going back and forth between Moody AFB and Charleston. Over the next couple of days, I’ll be trying to keep an ear on what I can and hopefully post a few more reports; what follows is yesterday’s activity.

Yesterday morning, I caught an E-8 JSTARS, KOMODO 04 (E-8C, 96-0043, 116th/461st ACW), en route to the area. While most of its operations were out of my listening range, I did catch its backend STRIKESTSAR making calls for radio checks on 345.000, a USCG frequency, and 166.4625 ($001), DHS Common, while on its way to the area. Just after lunch, it aerial refueled with NATION 01 (KC-10A, 86-0035, 305th AMW). The two aircraft made initial contact on a NORAD frequency, 260.900, then moved to an aerial refueling frequency, 238.900, for refueling operations.

KOMODO 04 (E-8C, 96-0043, 116th/461st ACW) in an orbit around New Bern, NC for Hurricane Florence support. Track from the ADS-B Exchange tracker.

An AWACS also operated in the area yesterday. Using ADS-B Exchange‘s tracker, I saw SENTRY 25 (E-3G, 79-0001, 552nd ACW) orbiting in the Greenville, NC area throughout much of the afternoon. It was always too far to the north to be within my listening range, so I didn’t catch any communications from it.

SENTRY 25 (E-3G, 79-0001, 552nd ACW) orbiting in the Greenville, NC area for Hurricane Florence support; track from the ADS-B Exchange tracker.

One of Customs and Border Patrol’s P-3 Airborne Early Warning aircraft also worked in the area affected by Hurricane Florence yesterday. OMAHA 42 (P-3 AEW, N142CS, CBP) headed to the area in the afternoon and remained in the area until around sunset. They told Jacksonville Center that they would be orbiting in the area to provide communications relay services. Once again, I caught them en route to the area, but they were operating too far away for me to any operational traffic from them.

Joint Base Charleston seemed to be back in operation by yesterday afternoon, if not for regular operations then definitely for Hurricane Florence related operations. A C-17 and two HC-130s flew in and out of JB Charleston on what seemed to be Florence related flights: REACH 1099 (C-17A, 02-1099, 437th/315th AW), KING 15 (HC-130J, 09-5708, 79th RQS), and KING 03 (HC-130N, 90-2103, 211th RQS?). I was able to hear all three checking in with PALMETTO Ops on 349.400. It seemed that KING 15 may have gone to Charleston from Moody AFB. REACH 1099 seemed to have made two trips from Moody AFB to Charleston and back. KING 03 seemed to go to Charleston from Patrick AFB and then flew from Charleston to Moody AFB. Both REACH 1099 and KING 03 were heard with Moody AFB’s ANGEL Ops on 228.225.

For part of the day yesterday, I was in Brooklet, GA, but I was able to use the mobile station, including the recording capabilities of its Home Patrol 2 and TRX-2 to record activity so I could log it later. While on the road between Savannah and Brooklet, I noticed a Motorola team from Savannah Communications seemed to be en route for Florence support and there were a lot of electrical line trucks and tree crew trucks headed that way as well.

Please keep those in the areas affected by Hurricane Florence in your prayers. The storm has dumped a lot of water and still has a lot more left. The storm is moving very slowly, exacerbating the flooding. The Carolinas, especially North Carolina, are going to need a lot of help. For all of us along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, remember – but for the grace of God, it could easily have been us. Try to find a way to donate or help out in some way.

2017 Wings Over the Golden Isles Airshow (Brunswick, GA) Frequencies

Update 26 March 2017:  118.650 is indeed “Tower” for the airshow.

Brunswick, GA – Due to my work schedule, I’m not able to attend or do any attended listening of this weekend’s Wings Over the Golden Isles Airshow at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Airport (KBQK), but I did set up a radio to do some computer logging/recording yesterday. It logged what seems to be the Air Boss frequency along with frequencies for the Blue Angels, the F-22 Demo Team, and the Sky Soldiers Demo Team. Additionally, it recorded several references to 118.650 as “the tower frequency.” KBQK doesn’t have a control tower, so it’s possible that a portable tower has been set up for the air show and it’s using 118.650. I’ll put it in the scan list today and try to confirm it.

123.150 – Air Boss

237.800 – Blue Angels Solos
284.250 – Blue Angels Show Box
275.350 – Blue Angels Squadron Common; Diamond

376.025 – F-22 Demo Team

234.500 – Sky Soldiers
123.025 – Sky Soldiers

I also checked Mode-S logs and found several aircraft that should be static displays or performers for the airshow.  It looks like C-17A, 92-3293 from the 437th/315th Airlift Wing at Charleston AFB, C-130H3, 94-6705 of the 165th Airlift Wing in Savannah, and P-3C, 161121 from VP-62 and NAS Jacksonville are static displays. It’s possible that a Georgia Army National Guard UH-72A, 12-72231 is a static display as well, but given the last altitude my receiver saw it, I’m not fully sure it landed at KBQK. One of the AeroShell Aerobatic Team AT-6Gs showed up on Mode-S as well.

AE07D7 – C-17A, 92-3293, 437th/315th AW (TURTLE8)
AE1FF6 – UH-72A, 12-72231, GA ARNG?
AE14D1 – P-3C, 161121, VP-62
AABCD7 – AT-6G, N791MH, AeroShell Aerobtic Team
ADFDEA – C-130H3, 94-6705, 165th AW (DAWG75)

I’ll be recording today as well and will update this list for the Sunday show if any new frequencies show up in today’s logs. If you have the chance to attend, don’t hesitate to go and have a good time; we don’t get the Blue Angels this close to Savannah or Brunswick very often, we usually have to go to one of military bases like Jacksonville, Moody, Robins, or Beaufort.

NAS Jacksonville P-3 and P-8 Callsigns; February 2015 Update

In December 2013 I put this blog post together in response to a question I received about P-3 and P-8 callsigns at NAS Jacksonville. In the just over a year that has passed, the transition from the P-3 to the P-8 at NAS Jacksonville is almost complete (As a reserve squadron, I wouldn’t expect VP-62 to transition until after all of the activity duty squadrons transition). VP-10 is ending their current deployment and will begin transitioning to the P-8 in March. VP-26 is now beginning their last deployment with the P-3, after which they will transition to the P-8. Taking this into mind, I’ve updated the December 2013 post with the most current information.

The US Navy is currently transitioning its Patrol Squadrons from the P-3 Orion to the P-8 Poseidon. VP-30, based at NAS Jacksonville, is the FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron) and was the first to train on the P-8 so that they could train the rest of the Patrol Squadrons during the transition.  VP-30 still retains the mission of training personnel for the P-3 until the transition is complete, so they are equipped with both P-3s and P-8s.  The east coast squadrons at NAS Jacksonville are the first to make the transition; VP-5, VP-8, VP-16, and VP-45 are the squadrons that have completed the transition.  VP-16 and VP-5 have made the first P-8A operational deployments.  VP-10 is about to begin the transition process and VP-26 will transition after their current deployment. VP-8 will soon begin a 13 month work up period prior to their first deployment with the P-8A. Below is a list of the Patrol Squadrons at NAS Jacksonville along with which aircraft they are currently operating (as of February 2015).

  • VP-30 (FRS):  P-3C, P-8A
  • VP-5:  P-8A
  • VP-8:  P-8A
  • VP-10:  Transitions to P-8A beginning March 2015
  • VP-16:  P-8A
  • VP-26:  Beginning last deployment with P-3C
  • VP-45:  P-8A
  • VP-62 (Reserve):  P-3C

For callsigns, the squadrons that transition to the P-8A are using the same callsigns that they did with the P-3C, so far no changes have been noted.  VP-30 flights have been using different callsign structures for P-3s and P-8s however:  P-3 flights have been utilizing two digit LL ## callsigns whereas P-8 flights have been using 3 digit LL 8## callsigns.

  • VP-30:  LL ## (P-3C), LL 8## (P-8A)
  • VP-5:  MAD FOX
  • VP-10:  LANCER
  • VP-26:  TRIDENT
  • VP-45:  PELICAN
  • VP-62:  NAVY LT 62#

Where can you hear the new P-8As?  The P-8As have been making regular flights along the coast as well as cross-country flights to other airfields.  They’ve also been heard on regular patrol squadron operating frequencies.  For the coastal Georgia area, here are some good frequencies to listen to (for ATC, they’re frequently heard on the VHF frequencies):

  • 277.400/126.750 – Jax Center Brunswick Low
  • 282.200/124.675 – Jax Center Jekyll Low
  • 282.300/135.975 – Jax Center Alma High
  • 285.650/126.125 – Jax Center Statesboro High
  • 290.350/132.425 – Jax Center Hunter Ultra High
  • 363.200/132.925 – Jax Center Millen/Savannah Low
  • 120.950/284.500 – SEALORD North Primary
  • 285.000 – TSC Jacksonville “FIDDLE”
  • 8.971 USB – TSC Jacksonville “FIDDLE”

Another interesting thing to note is that while most P-3s don’t make use of Mode-S the P-8As do, so if you’ve got a Mode-S receiver or one of the dongles that can be used for receiving Mode-S, keep an eye out for them.

Good Listening!

Recent News Articles with information on the P-3/P-8 transition:

Jax Air News – ‘Red Lancers’ homeward bound

Jax Air News – ‘Mad Foxes’ home from deployment

Jax Air News – ‘Fighting Tigers’ display high munitions proficiency