Looking through Google analytics I noticed someone got to this blog by searching for the phrase “how to get wilkes barre atis.” Inevitably this is because of my old post about flying to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton airport (AVP). I figured I should write something here about how to get the ATIS at Wilkes-Barre because I was confused by it too and since I was diverting there I had to figure it out in the air!
A bit of background: the ATIS or Automated Terminal Information System is used as towered airports to broadcast prerecorded (usually changing hourly) information about the weather, runway in use, special procedures, and any notices to airmen. Each ATIS update is coded with a letter that cycles through so when you call up the tower controller initially you tell them you have “Information Alpha” (or whichever letter is current). In all of the planes I have flown we have two radios and I usually use the second radio to grab the ATIS with the primary radio remaining tuned to an approach or center controller frequency.
I looked up the ATIS frequency for AVP and found it was 111.6. But my second radio does not tune this frequency! Each radio has both a navigation receiver and a communications receiver. The ATIS frequency for AVP is in the range for the Nav radio, not the com radio! In fact, you can listen in to the nav radio so that you can positively identify a navigation beacon (and sometimes weather information is broadcast from them). So I just tuned the ATIS frequency 111.6 into the Nav2 receiver and selected to receive the Nav2 audio in my headset. At this point I don’t remember if I had to open the squelch on the receiver but sometimes I need to do this with a distant ATIS anyway.
My guess is this was done because the area suffers from a lot of frequency congestion. The 111.6 MHz frequency is actually the same frequency for the VOR navigation beacon which is located on a ridge near the airport. So another possibility is it was easiest or cheapest to re-use the VOR transmitter to get good ATIS coverage. And next time you know, if it looks like a nav frequency, tune it in the nav radio!