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Introduction to The Radio
2010-03-18

Introduction to The Radio

I introduce the ATIS frequency, 124.7, the alphabetical sequencing, order of information during the day, and how to use this information. Most important I show how the data may be written for maximum usefulness by entering the data in the four quadrants of a + chart. I give the phone number to use for home use and practice 685-4567. To avoid mixing one ATIS with another it is best to use Post It Stickers with one to every ATIS

I then take the student through what to say to Ground Control and to the Tower. If no headset: I always make the student initially practice what to say while holding the microphone to his lips with his left hand. Held too far from the mouth, the microphone admits engine and propeller noise. It is surprising how difficult some find it to talk into a microphone with their left hand. All ground radio operations with the microphone should be taught and done with the left hand. For flight operations the right hand should be used. It only takes a one time experience with ATC and having the mike in the wrong hand to make this way of training relevant. A yoke switch and headset eliminates the problem but the training technique and skill is still worthwhile. Learn to keep the mike in your hand if only by the cord. Don't start the engine until you have practiced the radio work.

Before you enter the plane you should have noted the active runway, the wind, and the direction you will be departing. By guessing at wind direction and velocity the student can gain ability to second guess the ATIS and interpret windsocks at airports. The preflight consists of a complete tape-recorded walk around from which the student will make a scratch checklist. The 'why' of each item will be discussed with cautionary notes. It usually takes at least five revisions of the checklist before an acceptable one is achieved. Every pilot should develop his personal checklist for each aircraft.

I have made it a practice to make each departure from the airport in a different direction using differing departure procedures. The most complex of these departures is the 270-degree overhead. This 270 departure will allow many cross country trips to be initiated on the course line. Likewise, arrivals are planned to give a variety of checkpoints and pattern entries. This departure/arrival study is followed by a complete oral radio review of what will be said with anticipated response from ATC. The student must be taught how anticipation allows him to PLAN where to say what. Always practice communicating the correct words without pause. The student uses the radio from the very beginning. You must learn to talk airplane.

After you have received the ATIS, you want to position the aircraft so as to be over a well-known geographic point commonly used as a reporting point but at an uncommon altitude. The selection of this point should be far enough away so as to allow you to plan your arrival and prepare what to say on the radio. These points usually allow you to select the best one of the several five-mile points for entry into the ATA. The knowledge of these five mile points and their associated two mile points helps you, the pilot, plan what to say on the radio. This can be studied but will still require actual performance to develop skill. You have done the callup correctly when the tower says, "Approved as requested". You will never stop learning how to make arrivals.

After a couple of flights the student should begin to see how a given two-mile point may serve both as a two-mile final reporting point and as a 45 entry for another runway. Concord, due to its parallel runways, has a relatively complex arrival/departure system. One reporting point may serve as a two-mile base reporting point for different runways. It will take many flights and much instruction to master its multiple options.

I follow the same discussion and analysis for our arrival and departure at neighboring airports. Fortunately, these airports are in different quadrants and vary from having a Class C airspace underlying a Class B airspace to uncontrolled. For years I have made a practice of using these airports for pre-solo landing instruction and practice. This has meant that the student gets the practical experience of departures and arrivals. He develops familiarity with procedures, airports, and landmarks in a 25 mile radius surrounding his home field. I can only guess the comfort such knowledge provides the student on solo cross-country flights.

Aircraft radios are usually divided into two separate parts: Communications and Navigation. For now we will deal only with the COM side. The on/off switch works for both sides. As with most radios, the on/off switch is also the volume control. There is a 'squelch' control that is adjusted to just below the level of hearing a hiss or buzz. Where reception is poor, the squelch would need to be full right. More Initially you will need to know only four frequencies.
Memorize them.
ATIS on 124.7,
Concord Ground on 121.9
Concord Tower on 119.7
Emergency 121.5

At this point I show how the frequency range and selection is controlled by the knobs. I suggest that the sequence of frequencies at our home field can be very quickly and efficiently selected by counting the clicks. I explain the used of the squelch control and how a volume selected for taxi may not be sufficient for takeoff.

There are two COM frequency control knobs. The large knob controls the numbers to the left of the decimal point and the small one those to the right. The large knob can be turned completely through the numbers right or left from 118 to 135. Turn right to get larger numbers; left for smaller.

How the numbers appear when turning the small knob will vary but, it is usually from .0 through .95. An additional switch can allow an additional place value that gives up to 720 radio frequencies. The numerical values can be changed continuously in either direction. I would suggest that you practice turning in sequence

from 124.7 to 121.9;
from 121.9 to 119.7
from 124.7 to 119.7
from 119.7 to 121.9
from 121.9 to 121.5

These changes are those used for normal leaving and ending at CCR (Concord) Practice in counting the clicks as you go left or right from one frequency to another. You should do this so that you can reduce the amount of attention (distraction) needed for changing frequencies. Try it; you'll like it. Where an aircraft has dual radios, the operation and understanding of the control panel will be explained.

You should note that the frequencies for both sides Com and Nav, of the radio go from 108.0 to 117.95 on the Nav side and from 118.0 to 135.95 on the Com side. These are the aircraft VHF FM, (Very High Frequency, Frequency Modulation) frequencies, limited to line of sight reception and transmission.

An ADF can be used for reception only on four AM (Amplitude Modulation) radio bands and is not restricted to line of sight. The frequencies are shown in magenta. One of the four bands is the standard commercial broadcast band. The ADF needle will point to the selected station only on the ADF setting. On REC the best reception of music is possible. Military radios use UHF (Ultra High Frequency).

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