KSFF

Donned my riding apparel and took a quick spin through the city. Well, more like a relaxed ride through the city.

Stopped by Felts Field. Just because.

Clearly, it’s branded “Spokane Airport”.

This is a TLDR. Have a read over the wiki page containing a more complete history of KSFF.

Originally established in 1913 on the south shore of the Spokane River, just East of the City of Spokane. It was named Parkwater Airstrip.

In 1920, it was listed by the Spokane Chamber of Commerce as a municipal flying field.

In 1926, the US Department of Commerce recognized Parkwater as one of the earliest airports in the West.

It was renamed to Felts Field (KSFF) in 1927 in honor of James Felts of the Washington Air National Guard, who was killed in a crash in May, 1927.

Commercial traffic shifted from Felts/Parkwater over to Geiger Field (KGEG), about 10 miles to the West from Felts. Geiger is now called Spokane International Airport.

Today, Felts Field is still used for general aviation and hosts active education and training facilities.

ADS-B Receivers

And now for something completely different…

I’ve been hosting ADS-B receivers from FlightAware and FlightRadar24 for a few years now. Living in ML, I had an optimal location. Sure, there were limitations from mountains 100 miles away, but in general, I could pick up aircraft broadcasts above Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Richland.

Before we’d sold the house, I started receiving regular alerts from FlightAware that my receiver was offline. Checked everything, of course: it’s connected, nothing’s changed, device is plugged into the network, DHCP service is showing the device is alive. Even its own onboard diagnostics are even showing that it’s fine… except…

I sent an email to FlightAware to let them know it was offline and suggested that perhaps its 1090 radio was faulty.

They were rather dismissive. “No. Just double check it’s plugged in and connected to the network.”

It is. It’s reporting an error with the 1090 receiver.

“No. Just make sure it’s plugged in.”

Time passed. Moved house. And finally got round to taking a closer look…

I don’t have a prime location now. I can’t even get the antenna atop the rental’s roof. But, I can improvise a bit.

Right, so my FlightRadar24 receiver continues to work just fine. Well, limited receive range of course, but still fine.

But the FlightAware receiver…

It has an “internal” USB receiver. Just a simplistic RTL dongle from the looks of things.

I have a few spare RTL SDRs. Soooo… plug it in, power it up and it reports that everything is normal. Works fine. Still rather annoyed that FlightAware was dismissive of the issue I was reporting. But it works now.

Someday, I’ll see about having the receive antennas as high as possible. Perhaps I’ll have an antenna tower installed at the “next house”.

Technically correct…

Whenever I see wordy output or excessive logging data, I’m reminded of that old joke about a Microsoft Engineer vs. a pilot.

It’s thorough, complete, and technically accurate… but completely useless.

Found originally back in the early 1990s, reworked/reworded over time, pasted here for posterity, and because I don’t want to go following dead links again:

A helicopter was flying around above Seattle when an electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft’s electronic navigation and communications qquipment.

Due to the clouds and haze, the pilot could not determine the helicopter’s position and course to fly to the airport.

The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it in the helicopter’s window. The pilot’s sign said “WHERE AM I?” in large letters.

People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign read: “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.”

The pilot smiled, waved, looked at her map, determined the course to steer to SEATAC airport, and landed safely.

After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER” sign helped determine their position.

The pilot responded “I knew that had to be the Microsoft building because, like their technical support, online help and product documentation, the response they gave me was technically correct, but completely useless.”