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JetScan1
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« on: November 15, 2012, 02:31:30 PM »

Saw this on the BBC website ...

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County Tyrone radio ham saves US plane after contact lost

A radio enthusiast from Castlederg in County Tyrone has been praised for saving the lives hundreds of airline passengers, from his shed.

Benny Young was turning the dial on his radio when he picked up a Mayday call from a United Airlines flight from Dublin to Boston.

Mr Young said he heard the mayday call just before moved to another frequency.

He then relayed information between the pilot and ground control at the airport.

"I heard two people talking about Hurricane Sandy and that's what made me stay on the Pacific frequency and I heard the mayday call," Mr Young said.

"I ended up talking to the pilot for about 17 minutes and I got the man operating the emergency net to come up to my frequency.

"He could hear me, but he couldn't hear the pilot because of a problem with the transponders on the ground which had been taken out by the storm.

"We were able to get the plane diverted because the winds were measured at 95 miles an hour at Boston."

Mr Young also helped another plane over the United States on the same night.

"The other plane automatically scanned the frequencies and must have found us.

"I didn't have the time to strike up a conversation this time.

"There was great excitement at the time, it was great.

"I felt good after it anyway."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-foyle-west-20337368

Anyone have any more info. on this ? Presumably this was on an HF frequency ? Maybe it was caught on one of the archives here on LiveATC ? Not sure what the reference to "the Pacific frequency" means on a flight operating across the Atlantic ? The emergency net ? 121.500 maybe ?
  
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2012, 12:12:32 AM »

Interesting but confusing article. The reference to "transponders on the ground" is non sequitur, perhaps they meant "transmitter" or maybe a problem with satellite or CPDLC, and it is not clear that the "ground controller" was really at Logan, in fact I highly doubt it... most likely he was talking to the controller on the phone with a number provided by the captain or, if via radio he was talking to Shanwick. Either he had an all-band HF transmitter or possibly the QSO was on 2182 at the top of the amateur 160 meter band and I really doubt he could contact Boston on that band at any time of day except under very unusual conditions, which is why I vote for Shanwick.

As to the "man operating the emergency net" "coming up" to the frequency I have no idea what "net" that could be if not amateur... like I say, a pretty confusing story, doubtless better understood by somebody else with absolutely no knowledge of the subject matter to get in the way.

Other HF distress frequencies are 4125, 6215 and 8291, but I don't know what the aviation distress protocol is for HF other than 2182 and all I have ever heard on those shorter bands is maritime activity. Somebody over the pond who knows this guy's call should try to track him down for details, like the flight number and the frequency... if he was indeed on the NAT frequencies there is a good chance it is in the archives.

Would love to know "the rrrrrrrrrest.... of the story".
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JetScan1
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2012, 09:53:57 AM »

Some more info ....

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Benny averts airlines disaster

A LOCAL amateur radio enthusiast has this week been praised for potentially saving the lives of hundreds of airline passengers… from his shed in Castlederg.
 
The extraordinary incident occurred two weeks ago when Hurricane Sandy was battering America.
 
Benny Young was turning the dial on his radio when he picked up a ‘Mayday’ call from a United Airlines flight from Dublin to Boston.
 
The flight was having problems with its landing systems yet couldn’t convey this to Air Traffic Control in Boston as the storm had caused a breakdown in communications.
 
Benny responded to the plane’s call for help and passed the pilot’s message onto an emergency network of US amateur radio enthusiasts who in turn contacted Air Traffic Control.
 
As the drama unfolded Benny became the central point of contact between the plane and Air Traffic Control.
 
By relaying messages from the flight via the US amateur radio network to Air Traffic Control – and vice versa – Benny was able to guide the plane to safety and a miraculous landing at an airport in Buffalo.
 
Amazingly, Benny was called into action once again that night when it emerged that a second flight was in trouble, AA 720, American Airlines from Heathrow to Boston.
 
“I did the same thing and this time the plane was re-routed to JFK Airport,” Benny told the Chronicle.

http://strabanechronicle.com/2012/11/benny-averts-airlines-disaster/

Quote
Derg man 'saves US flight' from Sandy

A Co Tyrone amateur radio enthusiast claims to have averted disaster and saved the lives of hundreds of people, after intercepting a mayday call from a Dublin to Boston flight.

Benny Young, 29 and from Castlederg, told the Ulster Herald he made contact with the pilot of a United Airlines transatlantic flight who was having difficulty reaching Air Traffic Control in Boston.

It happened on the night of Monday 29 October, when Superstorm Sandy began to hit the east coast of America.

"The flight couldn't hear anything on the ground," Benny told the newspaper.

"They must have thought they were going to be able to land before the weather turned. Then the storm arrived and they didn't think they were going to reach Boston at all."

Tuning in to the American emergency frequency, Benny then made contact with a fellow amateur radio enthusiast, who in turn contacted Logan International Airport.

By relaying messages in this way, the plane was safely diverted and landed at an airport in Buffalo.

"It was one of those freak incidents. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before," Benny said.

On the same night, incredibly, a second flight was said to have experienced similar difficulties while en route from Heathrow to Boston.

"I did the same thing and this time the plane was re-routed to JFK," Benny, who is a member of Strabane Amateur Radio Society, said.

The society's secretary, Terry Whyte, told the Ulster Herald Benny should be proud of himself.

"Certain stations are set aside on these bands and Benny was at the right frequency at the right time," he said.

"He recorded everything in his log, but we still gave him a good grilling at the last club meeting - in fact, everyone else is jealous. This kind of thing is an amateur radio man's dream."

However, the Irish Aviation Authority told UTV it would have a record of any flight out of Dublin experiencing such problems, whether it happened in Irish or foreign airspace.

"I checked with our North Atlantic Communications station and they experienced absolutely no communications issues during the time of Hurricane Sandy," a spokesman said.

http://www.u.tv/News/Derg-man-saves-US-flight-from-Sandy/aabfa496-a76c-42b3-84ce-d45488b90ed6

In the last article there is a partial picture of the log where you can make out some of the entries.

Trying to locate the flights in question and I'm having a hard time verifying some of the "facts" in these stories. For example United doesn't operate any scheduled service between Dublin and Boston, and from what I can find so far it appears all United's transatlantic flights into BOS/EWR/JFK were cancelled on October 29 ? The second flight is reported as AA720 from Heathrow to Boston when in fact AA720 is a Dallas to La Guardia flight and according to FlightAware it was cancelled and did not operate on the 29th. This flight was reported to have diverted to JFK, but wasn't JFK was closed on the evening of the 29th ? American's Heathrow to Boston flight, 109, was cancelled and did not operate on the 29th.


« Last Edit: November 16, 2012, 01:06:51 PM by JetScan1 » Logged
NoMad
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2012, 12:33:05 PM »

Sounds like crap to me. I don't think anyone's life was saved by anything here. Unless the plane was falling from the sky and his radio waves kept it aloft...
« Last Edit: November 16, 2012, 03:13:03 PM by NoMad » Logged
Fryy
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2012, 02:54:32 PM »

LiveATC's fact checking team solves the case!  cheesy
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2012, 03:06:38 PM »

NoMad, I think I am somewhat in agreement with you given Jetscan's flight research, and you will note the word "claims" in the headline. In reviewing his "log" it appears he made initial contact on 14.3 mHz, one of the ham GCOA maritime distress frequencies and then moved the QSO to 14.332

Communications with both the aircraft and US based hams for the relay would have been possible on that frequency and at that time, however it is mystifying to me why a pilot would resort to such communications or how he would have been directed to that frequency under company oceanic procedures unless he was either a ham himself or the company actually does provide all those distress channels. There are any number of routine HF oceanic frequencies in multiple bands and transmitting from multiple locations including the terrestrial ARINC phone patch frequencies like 6640 where the receivers are always "on" and he would have been heard, not to mention satellite communications in both voice and data modes as well as pilot to pilot to ground relay on VHF guard (which happens all the time and at ranges up to five hundred miles or more), so I just don't get it, and if it's true he couldn't raise anybody but this dweeb I find it very disturbing. I see no aeronautical frequencies in that log other than a VHF 127.6 and 126.5 or.55 assumed to be for Buffalo.

BTW, Jetscan, that was UA flight 319 if you want to check on it.
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RonR
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« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2012, 11:13:07 PM »

I was listening to the high altitude center frequencies (ZNY, ZBW and ZDC) in and around the New York City area for much of the day on October 29 and was surprised that there was traffic flying overhead during Sandy.  There wasn't very much traffic, but there were some flights that passed by.  And those flights that I did hear didn't seem to have any problems communicating with ATC on VHF, including the ones that were in ZBW airspace.

Maybe I missed something but what was the position of this plane when it "lost contact" with everyone?  If they were trying to communicate with Boston, then it suggests that they were over land.  And there didn't seem to be a "breakdown in communications" with any of the other flights nearby.  If they were still out over the ocean, they would be talking to Gander or Shanwick on HF.

United has a code share flight (UAL7637) that is operated by Aer Lingus (EIN137) from Dublin to Boston but it was cancelled on Oct 29.

Also, there was no UAL319 flight that operated on Oct 29.  It did operate on the 28th but the leg from Chicago to Boston was cancelled.

And it's also interesting that the media here in the USA didn't mention anything about this.

I agree with NoMad, it all sounds off the wall if you ask me Smiley

Ron
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JetScan1
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2012, 10:38:41 AM »

Quote
Maybe I missed something but what was the position of this plane when it "lost contact" with everyone?

According to this "story" the flight was over the Atlantic.

Quote
Ham radio fan saves U.S. bacon by spotting Sandy mayday call

By JASON JOHNSON, Published: 16th November 2012

HUNDREDS of lives may have been saved on the night Superstorm Sandy hit America — by an Irishman in his shed.
 
Amateur radio fan Benny Young, from Tyrone, was tuning in on his hut-based hobby when he heard a ‘mayday’ call from a plane over the Atlantic.
 
But the United Airlines captain, en route from Dublin to Boston, wasn’t able to reach flight controllers in the US.
 
Benny, 29, picked up the pilot’s distress call and managed to get it passed on to emergency services.
 
The Castlederg man recalled: “I heard two people talking about Hurricane Sandy.
 
“That’s what made me stay on the frequency and I heard the Mayday call.
 
“They must have thought they were going to be able to land before the weather turned.
 
“Then the storm arrived and they didn’t think they were going to reach Boston at all.”

Luckily Benny was at the end of his receiver and was able to communicate with the stricken flight. He revealed: “I ended up talking to the pilot for about 17 minutes and I got the man operating the emergency net to come up to my frequency.
 
“The flight couldn’t hear anything on the ground. He could hear me, but he couldn’t hear the pilot because of a problem with the transponders on the ground which had been taken out by the storm.
 
“We were able to get the plane diverted because the winds were measured at 95 miles an hour at Boston.”
 
And Benny’s radio rescue act didn’t end there — because he also managed to help another plane over the United States on the same night.
 
He said: “The other plane automatically scanned the frequencies and must have found us.”
 
“I didn’t have the time to strike up a conversation this time.
 
“There was great excitement at the time, it was great. I felt good after it anyway.
 
“It was one of those freak incidents. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.”
 
Terry Whyte of Strabane Amateur Radio Society said: “Certain stations are set aside on these bands and Benny was at the right frequency at the right time.
 
“He recorded everything in his log, but we still gave him a good grilling at the last club meeting. In fact, everyone else is jealous.
 
“This kind of thing is an amateur radio man’s dream.”

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/irishsun/irishsunnews/4647214/Ham-radio-fan-saves-US-bacon-by-spotting-Sandy-mayday-call.html

If the mystery United flight was over the Atlantic perhaps he heard them on one of the ARINC LDOC (Long Distance Operational Control) frequencies working a phone patch with dispatch/operations ? This might explain the conversation about Sandy ?

I listened to the Buffalo archives from 20:00UTC on the 29th to 01:00UTC on the 30th and did not hear any Transatlantic flights divert into BUF. (Maybe it was before 20:00UTC ? The BUF archive was messed up and missing audio between around 18:30UTC and 20:00UTC).

A lot of things don't add up, but if you ignore the tabloid headlines and poor reporting I suspect there must be something to this story ? It would be interesting to know what really happened ? Maybe someone can get Benny Young to read the forum here and give us the real story ?




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sluf4
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2012, 01:36:10 PM »

Sounds like fiction to me as a pilot and a ham.  First off, most of our communications these days aren't even on HF-they're through CPDLC or SATCOM.  The HF is more of a backup.  Secondly, why would the pilot be on this "emergency frequency" that the ham operator is transmitting on?  He would be talking to the good folks in Gander or Shanwick, not tuning around the ham bands.  As a backup he would try to call other aircraft on the air to air frequencies if he had a problem.  This seems like a hoax to me-either intentional on his part-or someone acting as a pilot on this emergency net.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2012, 02:45:54 PM by sluf4 » Logged
InterpreDemon
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2012, 02:20:21 PM »

Sluf4, "This seems like a hoax to me-either intentional on his part-or someone acting as a pilot on this emergency net"

I agree with the latter... that had not occurred to me before. It was a pair of bootleggers, "pilot" and "net operator" duping this dweeb or he just made the whole thing up because as with you, I find it impossible that all communications options for the pilot would be reduced to calling out a mayday on 14.3

Next he'll tell us that as an amateur astronomer he was able to intercept and relay the light gun signals from Buffalo Tower.

It is a fraud.
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InterpreDemon
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2012, 02:27:46 PM »

One other option, Sluf4... it actually was a real pilot and ham like you relieving the boredom during the long hop over the pond. I have heard many of these conversations over the years, much more decades ago, but not in the form of a hoax, in fact if I am not mistaken there used to be some type of contesting activity in aeronautical mobile years ago.
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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2012, 02:49:41 PM »

i suppose it's possible, but they give us 2 freqs. for HF so usually we have to have them dialed in there for the SELCAL, so I have never seen anyone stray off of those freqs.  Not to say it doesn't happen, but I'd hate to explain myself to someone if I missed a radio call because I was on the ham bands.  I wish whoever had reported this story had done some fact checking with the airline first.
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JetScan1
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2012, 03:10:22 PM »

The media keeps picking up the "story" ......

Quote
How a radio ham in a Castlederg shed saved hundreds of lives on a US flight

By Donna Deeney, Saturday, 17 November 2012

A ham radio operator helped save the lives of hundreds of passengers on a US-bound flight while sitting in his garden shed in Co Tyrone.
 
Benny Young (29), an amateur radio enthusiast from Castlederg who spends most evenings scanning the airwaves around the world, was listening in while the east coast of America was being battered by Hurricane Sandy at the end of last month.
 
He tuned his equipment to a high frequency network and picked up two Boston locals discussing the debris flying around outside.
 
He was just about to move on to a different frequency when he suddenly heard “Mayday, Mayday”, and his hand froze on the dial.

The distress call was coming from the pilot of a United Airlines flight from Dublin to Boston but, unable to contact Air Traffic Control, he’d switched to an emergency frequency.
 
Still unable to be heard by the operator of the emergency band, he was picked up by Mr Young, sitting thousands of miles away in Castlederg.
 
Mr Young explained how the drama unfolded as he swung into action.
 
“The way the signals work means that sometimes people who are very close in distance may not be able to hear each other but could be heard by someone a long distance away, which is what happened to me.
 
“I had heard two ordinary people discussing the effects of the storm and the amount of debris that was flying around because of Sandy.
 
“I listened for a while and was just about to move the dial when I heard the mayday.
 
“The call was coming into an emergency frequency but I realised the two local people couldn't hear the distress call and neither could the operator, but because I was at the other side of the Atlantic I could, so I spoke up and established contact.
 
“The pilot explained that the plane’s transponder had been taken out by the storm, which meant he was unable to contact Boston Airport.
 
“So, because I was able to speak with both the pilot and the operator of the emergency frequency, I relayed the information between the two and the flight was safely diverted and landed.”
 
Mr Young, who works as a van driver, has been interested in radio networks since he was a boy of 11 when he had a CB radio, before setting up a most sophisticated system that allows him to speak with people all over the globe.
 
He admitted the air scare was a new experience for him.
 
He added: “The whole thing lasted about 10 minutes and I never got any sense of panic at any time.
 
“But I felt good when the plane landed and all the passengers had arrived safely, and as far as I know, not one of them was in any way aware of the drama, or that a van driver from Castlederg was talking to their plane from his garden shed.”

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/how-a-radio-ham-in-a-castlederg-shed-saved-hundreds-of-lives-on-a-us-flight-16238741.html

I was trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but the above does make it sound like someone was yanking his chain. A mayday call on a ham frequency, the storm took out the aircrafts transponder. rolleyes Flights that were cancelled, routes that don't exist, to airports that were closed. I'd call this one busted. 
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« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2012, 03:21:18 PM »

I believe the article said he was fact checked by the local club at Starbucks... is that not enough?

I've been an SWL for over forty years, most of that aeronautical and military, a pilot since the early eighties, and I have heard pilot hams makiing QSO's over the ocean, in fact I may even have a card or two from the distant past, but this story is virtually impossible. Even on VHF there were plenty of flights on the NATs flying to points west to relay on guard or cross-band in either direction and in any event loss of communications would hardly result in any sane, seasoned international airliner pilot calling a mayday. He would have continued to fly his assigned route to within easy VHF range of everybody on the ground in Boston, his satellite and ACARS also kaput, and if unable to get current weather, ATIS or reach anybody via radio, on their own cell phones or a passenger seat-back telephone... I guess he would refresh his memory of light gun signals not tested since he got his private ticket, squawk 7600, fly the last assigned STAR and try to shoot the approach in his ghost ship. Failing that, I suppose he would continue wandering about the night like the hapless John Anderson piloting his Twilight Zone airliner forever lost in time.

The whole thing is silly, which is why I suppose it has given us such great entertainment.
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RonR
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« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2012, 06:09:05 PM »

It sounds like something you'd read in one of those supermarket tabloids!  It's funny that only the UK media seems to be talking about this...

This also reminds me of those Hollywood movies where a random scene involving a commercial airliner started its takeoff roll as a 747 rolling down the runway, then the view from the undercarraige as it lifted off the runway was from a B52 bomber's landing gear and in flight it was a 727...always had to laugh at that...  grin

Ron
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