February 26, 2011
If I had known it was so easy to setup an online feed for air traffic control communications for my home airport I would have done it years ago. This afternoon I install a scanner at the Leading Edge Flying Club that will broadcast live ATC communications feed for Chicago Executive Airport (KPWK). The feed is now available via LiveATC.net, a site that broadcasts communications from air traffic control towers and radar facilities around the world allowing you to listen to live ATC via the internet and also via an iPhone App.
Although LiveATC.net has a great list of airports that feature communications they never had a feed for my home base KPWK. So, I reached out to the founder of Live ATC, Dave Pascoe, to inquire about the requirements to add my airport. I learned that Dave relies on the support of local aviation enthusiasts to setup each feed. Dave walked me through the process of setting up a new feed, sounding simple enough I volunteered to setup the Chicago Executive feed.
Dave sold me a used scanner for a reasonable price and even pre-programmed it for the frequencies at my airport prior to delivery. Once I received the device I simply followed the easy to follow instructions for installing the scanner and connecting it to the computer at the Leading Edge Flying Club office. Literally within about 15 minutes of arriving at the club today I had a live ATC feed up and running. You can now here a combination of Clearance Delivery, Ground and Tower frequencies for Chicago Executive Airport.
As easy and cheap as it was to setup I am surprised one of the flight schools or clubs on the airport had not set up a feed already. I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to learn to communicate well in the air traffic control system is to listen to yourself and others. Live ATC is a perfect tool to assist you with honing your ATC communications, in fact the Mastering VFR Communications DVD I reviewed a few months back recommends this method of learning.
LiveATC.net keeps a 45-day archive of most feeds which will allow a student to fly in the morning then replay his or her communications with his CFI upon return to the airport. This is an invaluable tool for improving your communications skills. Just as valuable as hearing your own communications is listening to others within the system. I am just now preparing to work on the Instrument Rating and I have enjoyed listening to clearance delivery and readbacks via the site.
If you have an iPhone you can listen to Live ATC feeds on the go. I love looking up airport feeds whenever I am near one to listen in to the aircraft overhead.
If your airport does not have a feed I strongly recommend you look into setting one up. All you need is a scanner and an always on internet connection near the airport. The Live ATC team could not be more helpful. They will provide you with some free software that is easy to install. Once up and running the transmission only takes up a small amount of internet bandwidth. Less than an hour of work can provide a ton of enjoyment and education for the aviation community.
February 7, 2011
Can a pilot overdose on aviation content? Like most pilots I would classify myself as an aviation addict. I feel like I have an endless thirst for quality aviation content. Until recently I addressed this addiction through hangar flying, blogs, podcasts, videocasts, and magazines (both printed and now digital). However, the influx of quality broadcast and cable programming focused on aviation is threatening my non-aviation existence.
Recently I reviewed Discovery Channel's new show Flying Wild Alaska which follows the extreme operations of Alaska's ERA Airlines. The show debuted as the most watched premiere in the networks history. Many have pointed out that Flying Wild Alaska is Discovery Channels answer to Canada's History Channels wildly successful Ice Pilots NWT which recently kicked off it's second season. National Geographic Channel didn't want to miss out, they released an interesting three-part series focused on aviation in Alaska called Alaska Wing Men.
Two aviation related production you might have missed is The Aviators and The Flightline. The Aviators is a Canadian produced show that covers general aviation in North America. The show which is produced by pilots is meant to inspire anyone that has ever gazed skyward, entertaining pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. The weekly magazine-style show airs on select Public Broadcasting Service stations. However, if you can't find it in your area you can subscribe to watch the show online ($14.99). Starting this week the show is also available online through Hulu. They have announced based on their success thus far they have already begun taping season two which will begin airing in September 2011. However, You can still enjoy the final two episodes in February and the archive of shows online or via Hulu.
The Flightline covers aviation events and stories in the midwest. They capture stunning high definition footage from inside and outside the cockpit of a variety of aircraft including vintage warbirds, modern military aircraft and general aviation aircraft. The first season of The Flightline aired on the ABC affiliate in Minneapolis. As they prepare for a second season they are looking to expand their reach to neighboring midwest states. You can view some of their great footage on their website and vimeo.
Having too much quality General Aviation content to consume is a problem I am enjoying dealing with.