UNICOM and CTAF
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of general aviation. I missed out on a chance to get my pilot's license before home ownership and becoming a parent(!) took center stage.
I wager that I'll be able to return to this endeavor at some point, but at present the best I can muster is the occasional session in X-Plane. However, I do have the luxury of living very close to Rensselaer County airport (5B7). Since this is an uncontrolled facility - there is no control tower - pilots using the airfield use a common frequency to keep tabs on each other.
Common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF), is the name given to the VHF radio frequency used for air-to-air communication at US, Canadian and Australian non-towered airports.
Many towered airports close their towers overnight, keeping the airport itself open for cargo operations and other activity. Pilots use the common frequency to coordinate their arrivals and departures safely, giving position reports and acknowledging other aircraft in the airfield traffic pattern.
The CTAF frequency for Rensselaer County is 122.700, which is well within the range of most amateur 2m/144Mhz equipment. It's pretty neat to hear the pilots make their calls, and then hear the aircraft overhead. Listening to the radio traffic might also help me prepare for the day when I'm ready to head back up!