December 16, 1999
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As a newbie to hunting aeronautical
beacons (NDBs), I find that I enjoy
long headphone sessions at strange hours, listening to overlapping sequences
of fragmented Morse code, hoping to catch at least two clear, complete
signs of a previously unheard beacon. Because call signs are given
frequently (the longest interval that I have encountered is 40 seconds
GYL:407 khz, Glencoe, MN), it isn't necessary to spend hours listening
strange foreign language with all of the accompanying atmospheric noise,
and fading in order to hear a call sign, as is common in my previous
pursuit, shortwave listening. Once an unambiguous call sign has been
determined, I then leap at the chance of trying to ID the beacon and
determine its location.
The two or three letter call signs are themselves interesting and
sometimes be used to identify a beacon. For example, CAD on 269 khz, calls
to mind its location, Cadillac, MI. Similar associations can be found for
the following: EAG:302-Eagle Grove, IA; UVA:281-Uvalde, TX; TEL:206-Tell
City, IN; and RED:203-Red Lodge, MT. Being familiar with airport codes
also help in IDing a beacon because the call sign of the beacon is frequently
the same as the airport ID. For example, TAD:329-Trinidad, CO is located
near Perry Stokes Airport (ID-TAD); and GLS:206-Galveston, TX is located
the Galveston International Airport (ID-GLS).
The call signs of Canadian beacons, with their ever present long
mostly 400 hz modulation, are often the same as their airport code (e.g.,
YNC:385-Wemindji, QC is the same is its airport code-YNC, and YSK:208 is
same as the airport code for Sanikiluaq, NT).
There are a number of WEB sites that I use to help ID beacons. These
include: Paulo Santos' http://www.airnav.com/airports/
and if lucky enough to catch a
South American, Marcus Ramo's http://www.unetsul.com.br/py2pll/ndb_list.htm.
I also have on hand a number of hard copy references including: Kevin
Carey's Beacon Finder, Bob Montgomery's Monty's Beacon Guide, a full set
FAA airport facility directories, and a membership in the AOPA (Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association [http://www.aopa.org/index.shtml]).
particularly useful WEB site that I use for Canadian airport codes is
is also frequently visited to obtain
Canadian IDs. A good hard copy source for Canadian BCNs that I use is the
Canada Flight Supplement.
Once I've IDed a BCN, I then try to find its name. These names are
as interesting as the beacon's location. A large percentage of the beacons
that I have heard are simply named for their city (e.g., GNI:236-Grand
Grand Ile, LA; PEZ:275-Pleasanton, Pleasanton, TX; and AAF:349-Apalachicola,
Apalachicola, FL). Sometimes, the name of the BCN is a shortened version
the city (e.g., LXT:261-Lesumit, Lee Summit, MO; and XW:400-Flmng,
Flemingsburg, KY ). Others are simply named for their county (e.g.,
TNZ:227-Lawrence County, Walnut Ridge, AR; RZ:236-Ross County, Chillicothe,
OH; and BMW:404-Barrow County, Winder, GA). A number of BCNs are also named
for their airport (e.g., HKF:239-Hook Field, Middleton, OH; ENY:254-Kennedy,
JFK Memorial Airport, Ashland, WI; and TEC:368-Tech, Virginia Tech Airport,
Blacksburg, VA). Other are named for famous people (AAA:330- Abraham,
Lincoln, NE; DNT:343-Nally Dunston, Dyersburg, TN; ZDX:369-Coolidge, St.
John's Antigua; and CSB:389-Harry Strunk, Cambridge, NE ).
Geographical features are also used in naming BCNs (e.g.,
CLB:216-Carolina Beach, Wilmington, NC; BGF:263-Boiling Fork, Winchester,
GZV:280-Brazos River, Graford, TX; LLE:329-Kettle Moraine, West Bend, WI;
UMP:338-Metropolitan, Indianapolis, IN; MKR:339- Milk River, Glasgow, MT;
HWS:377-Central Wisconsin, Mosinee, WI; and BRA:379-Broad River, Asheville,
NC). A few beacons are named for their operating agency (e.g., IUB:404-
Institute, Institute for Emergency Medicine, Baltimore, MD; UTX:405-United,
United Technologies, Jupiter, FL; IL:407-Airbo, Midwest Air Charter,
Wilmington, OH; TM:409-Tifto- Tifton Air Service, Tifton, GA; CSS:1414-Court
House, Washington Court House; and RVJ:424- Prison, Reidsville, GA).
Among my favorite BCN names are those that creatively associate the
beacon with the locale (e.g., RA:254-Ranch, Rapid City, SD; FIS:332-Fish
Hook, Key West, FL; HR:338-Sebas, Harlingen, TX; BKU:344-Timber, Baker,
RNB:363-Rainbow, Millville, NJ; CQD:372- Cascade, Erie, PA; UQN:372-Onyun,
Vedalia, GA; SP-382-Huskk, Springfield, IL; and JDM:408-Wheatfield, Colby,
KA). Other beacon names are nicknames (e.g., BJT:221-Bulldog, Athens, GA;
and UOC:524-Hawkeye, Iowa City, IA). Still others are more fanciful and
imaginative (e.g., PED:221-Needmore, Springfield, TN; SQT:257-Satellite,
Melbourne, FL; CQN:341-Daisy, Chattanooga, TN; PUF:345-Puff, Estherville,
OI:356-Tungg, Peoria, IL; RRJ:368-Oranj, French Lick, IN; AI:371-Video,
Anderson, IN; DW:375-Owaso, Tulsa, OK; MSB:410-Monarch, Iola, KS;
IY:417-Chukk, Charles, City, IA; and SYW:428-Cash, Greenville, TX).
The FAA has an entire suite of interesting BCN names. These names
to be pronounceable groups of five letters. Some of the more interesting
names are: JF:373-Conda, NY, NY; HK:332-Ermin, Chicago, IL; BI:230-Jadan,
Bismarck, ND; SH:230-Crakk, Shreveport, LA; FS:245-Rokky, Sioux Falls,
HU:245-Yinno, Terra Haute, IN; JH:260-Brenz, Jackson, MS; BR:266-Redan,
Atlanta, GA; ME:287-Aulon, Memphis, TN; RO:305-Topan, Roswell, NM;
MA:326-Farly, Midland, TX; MT:347-Zebre, Charlestown, IL; ME:350-Deana,
Chicago, IL; LI:353-Lasky, Little Rock, AR; DO:359-Dotte, Kansas City,
AA:365-Kenie, Fargo, ND; FT:365-Mufin, Fort Worth, TX; AM:378-Picny, Tampa,
FL; DL:379-Pykla, Duluth, MN; CR:382-Conor, Corpus Christi, TX; AR:385-Hossy,
Hot Springs, AR; JUG:388-Jecca, Seagoville, TX; JE:397-Algoa, Jefferson
MO; and MS:400-Monah, Madison, WI).
Even military bases add interesting BCN names to the list (e.g.,
OFZ:388-Trail, Fort Sill, Oklahoma; BHN:391-Buckhorn, Ft. Leonard Wood,
and XCR:404-Ripley, Little Falls,MN).
For the most part, Canadian beacons do not seem to have names, except
the single letter beacons. These are named alphabetically: B:266-Bravo,
Hamilton, ON; L:368-Lima, Toronto, ON; R:403-Romeo, Toronto, ON; T:263-Tango,
Thunder Bay, ON; W:215-Whiskey, Winnipeg, MB; and Y:414-Yankee, Regina,
Occasionally, an unusual name appears on a verification letter: K:335-Kib,
Because I am a newbie to NDBing, the above list is far from complete.
However, in your searching, you may consider adding another column to your
list of beacon characteristics, i.e., beacon name. It's great fun reading
through the list and contemplating how the beacon got its handle.