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Real-world Unicom and Uncontrolled Airports

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For those that are interested, here's how the real world unicom works. This applies to airports in the USA, but other countries should be similar. I hope this helps those that are wondering what that strange "unicom 122.8" on list of controllers is.A unicom is a privately operated radio station, usually run by what is know as a fixed based operator (FBO). FBO's, for lack of a better description, are the service stations of aviation. Many are small mom and pop operations that sell fuel and maybe some supplies. They may be the only building on the airport. Others are large and luxurious, catering to the elite and lucrative bizjet crowd. The bigger ones offer fuel, maintenance, flight instruction, flight planning facilities, restaraunt, and a nice place to rest in between legs. The unicom is not always operated by an FBO. I've flown into airports where the unicom is manned by the fire or police department. The unicom operator will provide pilots with limited information about the airport. Unicom frequencies are typically 122.7, 122.725, 122.8, 122.975, 123.0, 123.05, and 123.075. 122.8 is probably the most common unicom frequency, which is most likely why it was chosen for Squawkbox. If the unicom is located at an airport with a control tower, it's frequency will be 122.95. What about airports that don't even have a unicom? In that case, the multicom is used for communications. 122.9 is the multicom frequency for unattended airports, but I sometimes see part-time FBO's use this one too. Since there's a limited amount of frequencies available and a large number of uncontrolled airports, you will hear radio transmissions for other nearby airports that share the frequency. There may be several airports within a hundred mile radius that have a unicom frequency of 122.7. You will hear pilots and unicom operators for several airports at the same time. As you can imagine, the radios can be very busy. When flying to an uncontrolled airport, make your first call up to unicom when about 10 miles out. This call does two things. It requests an airport advisory from the unicom operator, and it also lets other planes in the traffic pattern know you are coming:

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Very nice and helpful to those of us without real world experiance. Thanks Rich.

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Rich,Great post - thanks so much, I really enjoyed reading it.Ian.

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Thank you, I have a question.On VATSIM is there any type of person doing FFS?

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