Let’s say you are flying VFR and you want to pick up flight following. Where can you find the frequency for the closest ATC enroute center controller?
B-757 VHF radio control. Note the flip-flop (TFR) switch in the center.
In this audio lesson, I give you tips and tricks for finding and selecting the correct ATC enroute center frequency. To make it a little more entertaining, I’ll tell you how I recently screwed up badly, and had to scramble to find the correct center frequency while flying at 37,000 feet at .80 Mach.
(Note: This audio lesson was created while I was on a layover at DFW. The microphone I had on hand was not top-tier. The audio quality is not as good as you deserve. The message, however is from the heart.)
Here is a transcript of this audio lesson in .pdf format.
- Enroute air traffic control centers are divided into sectors. Each sector has its own radio frequency that works with a ground-based radio antenna in a specific location.
- If you need to contact ATC while enroute, you need to pick an ATC frequency that works with the ATC antenna that is closest to your location. You might be on, or past the edge of the sector you choose, but going for the frequency that appears closest is a good place to start.
- How you find the correct frequency depends on what you have with you in the cockpit.
- All F.A.A.-published enroute charts have center frequencies printed in “postage stamp” boxes on the chart. Each frequency box is shown on the chart in its relative location to the ground-based antenna.
- Find your location on an F.A.A. chart and then pick the closest frequency box.
The postage stamp box for Denver Center frequency 118.575. Farmington is the sector name, but don't worry about that. Just call 'Denver Center' on your radio.
- Jeppesen products have frequency boxes shown on the enroute low charts, (surface to Flight Level 240.)
- Jeppesen enroute high charts, (FL 240 and higher,) don’t show the frequency boxes. They have an almost worthless table of enroute frequencies, listed by center, (Chicago Center, for example,) but they don’t give a specific location for each frequency.
- Sectional charts don’t have enroute frequency boxes; and they don’t have an enroute frequency table. They do list tower and approach control frequencies, but these won’t help you if you are flying beyond the reach of terminal/airport radar.
- Here’s the trick. If you can’t find, or don’t know which frequency to use, contact any flight service station on frequency 122.55.
- Give your location to the flight service station (FSS) specialist who answers your call. He will need your radial and DME to the nearest VORTAC or VOR/DME station.
- Once the FSS specialist knows where you are, he will give you the correct frequency to contact Center.
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