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Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

I love flying. I’ve been a pilot for about 6 years now, and flying is not as hard as it sounds. And speaking of sounds, it is actually the radio that is overwhelming.

Yes, that’s the thing you have to listen to attentively, which uses a language that is intimidating to say the least. It certainly takes some getting use to, but once you learn the lingo it is very cool to listen to “air speak” when cruising up there in the blue yonder.

I have a portable radio as well which looks like a walkie talkie device. I can switch it on and listen to the air traffic control tower and get a feel for how busy the airport is and so on. And then, I discovered this site: Live Air Traffic Control.

You guessed it: you can tune into air traffic control over the Internet. This is way cool and quite amazing. You can log in to the world’s busiest airports and you can even listen in on the Lanseria tower, which is my base camp.

Check this site out and turn up your speakers – this is a must for any aviation enthusiast, student pilot, air traffic controllers flight simulator buff, airline operator and basically anyone intrigued by the world of flight.

ATC stands for Air Traffic Control, and this site is about bringing you live ATC radio traffic from airports around the world. MP3 audio streaming is the technology used to provide this fantastic detour and it works like a dream. There is an also an archive service which allows you to examine recorded ATC transmissions.

What is most exciting are the possibilities this opens up. I am sure if I surfed the web and googled a bit more I would find examples of new, on-the-edge services like LiveATC. Things like traffic reports, weather forecasts, crime watches, financial updates. The sky is the limit, excuse the pun. All of these services are conducive to online audio streaming.

The intriguing part about the ATC scenario is that you are not listening to a news anchor or an announcer, but rather to a pilot talking live to an air traffic controller. Now what if it was a harbour supervisor, or a taxi co-coordinator, or an ambulance dispatcher – you get the idea. The imagination can wander.

You must have guessed this next part as well. This is a free service.

There is no revenue model for this cool online service. Let’s therefore end by sharing a punt with you that is featured on the ATC site – they are looking for feeder sites. If you are a flying enthusiast, live within 30 kilometres from an airport and have a portable radio, then consider getting involved. You will need to have a permanent Internet connection, the cables needed to connect your comms radio to your PC’s sound card, and that’s about it really. The ATC site will provide the free open source software and they will get you up and running.

You’ve got to love this new world!

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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