Friday, May 1, 2009

Vidalia Onion Festival Airshow Radio Fun

Had a great time last Saturday at the Vidalia Onion Festival Airshow! Dan-KF4MND invited me and my family to come along with him and his family and make a day out of it. So Dan, Karen and Maggie, and me, Lori and Jackson met up in Reidsville on Saturday morning around 10:00 to caravan the remainder of the way to Vidalia. Of course Dan and I were communicating on simplex to coordinate our meeting. We decided that we would enhance our airshow experience with the use of several handhelds, a scanner, and a couple of FRS radios. As soon as we arrived at the airshow, Dan and I were tuning up the local frequencies. I had done some research a couple of days before to make sure I had an idea of what freqs to expect to hear something on and programmed my Pro-96 scanner accordingly. I also brought my VX-7R and my VX-2R which have wideband recieve and allow for monitoring of the airbands. Earlier in the week I performed the "freeband mod" on both radios primarily so that I could use them on FRS and talk to Lorie and Jackson. We quickly spotted the "airboss" who is the airshow coordinator for any airshow and is the primary hub for all communication to the air trafic. You can see some pictures below of thier setup. Since we weren't hearing the aircraft we decided to get some help. We went over to the airboss and found a guy that gave us the two frequencies that they were using to communicate with all the aircraft. Bingo! We were now in the loop. The guy that we talked to happened to be an active duty Air Force guy who was down from Robbins AFB and we had a good chat with him. Armed with the proper frequencies, we were now able to listen to all the activity. We even were able to listen in on the B-2 Bomber as it made it's way down from Whiteman AFB, MO. We first began hearing him talk to the airboss as he passed over Dublin, GA. What a treat to see the B-2 make three passes and be able to listen to the pilot. Using the radios sure added an awesome element to the whole airshow experience.

About midway thru the show, Jackson and I decided that would would take a flight on the Vietnam era Huey helicopter that the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation Sky Soldiers were offering. Jackson was excited and so was I! So we paid our money, signed our waivers, got our pre-flight briefing, and off we went. It was about a 10 minute flight and worth every penny. I had my VX-7R with me and made contact with Dan on the ground. He suggested giving the 146.970 Savannah repeater a try since I was up and had some good altitude. I thought, heck yeah! So I made a call and contacted Mark-KD4PDX in Savannah as an aeronautical mobile. What fun.

Of course Dan and I were both monitoring the local Vidalia 2 meter repeater and had made contact with a couple of local HAMs and found out that they had the Toombs County EMA mobile communication unit there at the show. So naturally we had to go check it out. We met up with Bill-KG4BKO and got a nice tour of the unit. You can see a few pictures below.

So after an awesome day in Vidalia, we packed it up and went our seperate ways very satisfied with our experience. Takes so much to Karen and Lorie for endulgeing us as we "played radio" most of the day! Looking forward now to the Beaufort airshow in a few weeks.

You can see more pictures on the W4LHS Yahoo Group or on my Facebook page.

No comments: