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Cleveland ARTCC/National Common Aviation

Last updated on 06-15-13.

Aviation is one of those things I never really got into monitoring all that much.  I don’t live within 30 miles of an airport at my house, and the airports in the area are fairly small.  Nevertheless, there are interesting communications to be heard in the area.

Aviation can be a fairly interesting part of the scanning hobby.  You don’t have to be in any certain location to have activity; you will be able to hear communications just about anywhere in the country.

Civilian aircraft communicate in the 108 to 137 MHZ frequency range, in AM mode.  Military aircraft communicate in the 225 to 400 MHZ range, also in AM mode.  I am not very familiar with military aviation monitoring, because it is much more challenging and you need good antennas to be successful.  This page is devoted to aviation frequencies used regionally and nationally, that will be active no matter what local county you are located in.  For specific information to Erie International Airport, please see the aviation page under Erie County’s frequency reference.


Many aviation frequencies, such as towers, approach/departure, etc., are location-specific and vary across the country.  However, several frequencies remain constant.  I will only highlight a few of them here.  121.5 is the “VHF Guard” frequency, used as an aircraft emergency calling channel.  You will want to have this in your radio no matter where you are located. 123.45 and 123.475 are often used as air-to-air frequencies, and 123.025 and 123.05 are used by helicopters.

Nationwide Aviation Frequencies

Freq (MHZ): usage

121.5: “VHF Guard”, national emergency calling

123.025: helicopter inter-air

123.05: helicopter inter-air

123.45: air to air

123.475: air to air


Once planes have exited the small amount of airspace covered by the Erie airport tower or another airport in the area, they will transition to the control of the Cleveland ARTCC (Air Route Traffic Control Center.) The United States is broken down into air sectors, and these sectors cover very wide areas.  Our Cleveland center covers an area that covers portions of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, and it is a very busy airspace as well.

There are many different frequencies to monitor throughout the airspace of Cleveland.  As aircraft move from one area of the airspace to another, they will switch frequencies as they go.  Additionally, planes at different altitudes will utilize different frequencies to stay in contact with the center.  In short, each frequency has a location and altitude designation for usage.

Traffic you will hear is mainly quite routine, but can be quite interesting.  In our area, you will only hear one side of the conversation, as we are too far as ground stations to hear Cleveland.  The planes themselves will have great coverage, however, due to their altitudes.

Cleveland ARTCC Frequencies (only freqs used locally)

Freq (MHZ): usage

125.2: Dunkirk sector low altitudes

124.325: Bradford air sector low altitudes

119.725: Franklin air sector high altitudes

125.875: Ontario air sector high altitudes

132.925: Jamestown air sector super-high altitudes

134.125: Warren air sector high altitudes

127.075: Waterford air sector low altitudes

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