Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Over New York, Again

Way too many job hunting stories lately. I'm hoping it will pay off later with some great training and new job stories. But for today, a joke and some equipment stuff.

The joke is a supposedly true story from the Overheard in New York website.

Stewardess: The plane is about to land. Please everyone turn off your iPods.
Man: Why does she just assume we all have iPods?
Lady: It's New York. Even the people asking for money have iPods.

--United Airlines plane, LaGuardia

The airline pilots probably have iPods, too. Not like us lower echelon pilots who just listen to AM radio on the ADF.

I thought I'd already told you about the ADF, but a blogger search of this blog only turns up an example of replacing it with a round GPS unit. ADF stands for Automatic Direction Finder. It's an old-fashioned, but still in use navigational instrument. The pilot tunes the onboard ADF receiver to the frequency of a navigational beacon (NDB) on the ground, and a needle on the face of the instrument points on a compass card to the direction of the station, relative to the airplane. (The needle does its pointing automatically, hence the A in the name. The older instrument that the ADF replaces didn't indicate the direction to the station until the navigator had carefully adjusted the loop antenna to the strongest signal.) To ensure that the ADF is receiving the correct station, the pilot monitors a morse code transmission from the station and matches the dashes and dots to the ones the chart indicates her chosen station should be emitting.

It just so happens that the navigational beacons in question transmit their morse code identifiers on frequencies in the AM radio band. There are people out there who enjoy monitoring NDB signals, just for a hobby, but when it comes to listening enjoyment, most people prefer a less monotonous type of audio signal. (Is it just my perception, or are the British more prone than other nationalities to observational 'collections' like trainspotting or counting car number plates?) Any ADF receiver can be used to listen to local AM radio stations, while flying the airplane. I have a story about this, for later.


Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that there are people out there whose great passion in life is listening to NDB morse code idents.


Anonymous said...

I have never ever collected consecutive car number plates or done trainspotting or collected football programmes or anything like that at all. Ever.
And I'm not British or anything.
I would draw the line at collecting radio frequencies, though. That's weird

Anonymous said...

I love listening to beacons as I pass over them. It is, for lack of a better word, intoxicating. I always think of the long gone airline pilots in Connies and C-47s that were listening to the same beacon five decades ago. It is a lonely sound that represents life to a pilot. Yep, maybe it is wierd, but I love 'em.