A Case For 121.5

Would like to get a discussion going on replacing 122.8 with 121.5. As a USA real corporate jet pilot we are required to monitor 121.5 during the entire flight. Having 121.5 monitored, when no controllers are available, gives the opportunity of realism and lets newly logged on controllers make a blind voice statement stating they are about to start controlling in a given sector. There still is a need for 122.8. That is for flying at an uncontrolled airport doing something like “touch and go” practice landings. Once you leave the ATA (airport traffic area) switching to “guard” 121.5 would be appropriate.
Regards to all-

Hello Edward,

It is not allowed by Code Of Conduct over VATSIM network.

**A16** All voice and text communications frequencies are for operational use only. Account holders shall not carry out private conversations over any communication channels, frequencies, or resources, with the exception of private text messages. The guard VHF radio frequency (121.500) shall not be used.

I see a major argument against this. for the RW, Guard is not only a frequency that pilots are to monitor, but controllers are to monitor as well, especially for if any ELTs go off, as well as to get hold of pilots who may be lost or NORDO. Unless it is an emergency or required, everyone would be monitoring 121.5.

That is different from UNICOM or any CTAF, which is airport specific, as well as used for traffic to use for their own reporting, which ATC isn’t really privy to. ATC won’t broadcast on UNICOM or CTAF, especially if an airport is closed. If ATC is broadcasting on CTAF at a given field, then the field would technically be considered towered. For example, when KVGT (N. Las Vegas Airport) tower is closed, the Tower frequency (which also controls field lighting) is also the CTAF frequency. The TRACON has no control over that frequency, and as such would not be monitoring it at all. If a controller were on that frequency, then they would be operating that frequency, this making KVGT towered and open.

For VATSIM, Guard goes throughout the network. One thing we don’t really need is someone advertising that they’re open at a given field and have everyone (regardless of range) get that message; that would lead to pilots asking for the same thing on guard, giving everyone (pilots and controllers) all of these messages that are not applicable to them. UNICOM at least has a range limit; Guard does not. We also can’t disable receiving anything on Guard as well, so we’d be spammed with those messages, whether we like it or not. Some pilot over at LFPG won’t really care that a controller is announcing that he is up and running at KPSC, but would still get the announcement that they are up.

This is why Guard is stated in the CoC to not be used, and that SUPs, ADMs, and above are really the only ones to use it and have a valid reason to do it.


Good Lord, could you imagine all the infantile meowing and other sound effects? It happens in reality to an unbelievable degree; can you imagine it on the network?

Not to mention, this would be an entirely unrealistic use for guard.

121.5 is the internarional air distress frequency. I don’t know about elsewhere, but in the UK any transmission on that frequency is immediately triangulated for location and sets off alarms. Having global non-urgent transmissions on that frequency is really not a very good idea.

Thanks for all the good points that have been addressed on this matter. Could I suggest that 121.5 be used as a world wide link to virtual ATC Supervisors? For example if you (by mistake) drifted into virtual controlled airspace, you would be contacted by an ATC Supervisor (politely) on guard to remedy the situation. In the real world, guard is used 90 percent of the time for “dropped frequency’s”. That is where real airline pilots confuse a radio frequency change. It is (as pointed out) an emergency frequency by ICAO standards. Regards to all-

Marine radios for years have sent a coded data burst containing station ID and position with every transmission on an emergency channel. I LIVE for the day we get that in aviation, and the first guard fool that doesn’t know it meows on the freq, and they make an example of him. I genuinely want to see someone get every certificate they have revoked. These effing people have zero business in a real airplane.

That would only work if all pilots actually monitored 121.5 at all times. And since we have the benefit of private messages, we already have a solution for supervisors to contact pilots. We also have the ability for ATC to send “contact me on xxx.xxx” messages.

Sorry my friend… 121.5 is only reserved for meows, east of the Mississippi…

But if VATSIM did go the 121.5 route… Would we be able to start saying “you’re on guard” every time someone transmits?

meow meow

1 Like

121.5 is anyway only monitored in RL only in aircraft with more than 2 VHF radios. It is impractical in aircraft with only 2 radios.

We should be allowed to monitor 121.5 but not transmit on it. Supervisors will be able to text you on the Pilot client.

This is to keep the habit of monitoring it just like real airliners do, but taboe to speak on it except in an emergency which in that case you anyway use the ATC frequency to communicate even in an emergency.

Er? Awful lot of GA aircraft with only two radios are out there monitoring Victor guard. Occasionally they use it correctly too… In my career, I’ve had to relay for two single engine aircraft making off airport landings in remote areas that had the presence to tx on guard in hopes of reaching anyone. Thankfully, both cases worked out.

I’ll use those stories to ask a little consideration from the folks who think the meowing on guard is funny - probably none of you guys, but maybe one of them will read this eventually.

Consider what happens when you use an emergency freq for frivolity. Consider that, in many cockpits, you’re creating a distraction and interfering with ATC or inter-crew comms. This in itself is a threat, so consider how crews manage it?

They deselect guard, so they don’t have to listen to you.

Consider what ATC does when THEY hear you on guard? Are they going to allow your meow to interfere with their comms to other aircraft?

No. So THEY deselect guard.

Then consider what happens when one of those guys in a small airplane over the mountains or a remote area at night truly needs the freq, and desperately reaches out on it… And the airliner he can see right overhead doesn’t answer… Because they aren’t listening.

One of those guys had his wife and two kids with him. Thankfully, we were listening. That night. What if it had been a meow fest 20 minutes earlier though?

Don’t do this. If you lack the baseline level of maturity required to resist the urge to misuse an emergency freq, find another career. If you ever do it my flight deck, I’ll help you right along in that endeavor.

Vatsim can use AI to monitor the whole of 121.5 voice and if it detects “meow”. Then send the soundclip to a supervisor. The meower should then be kicked off.

That wouldn’t be realistic… VATSIM is all about realism… Me must have the “Meows”, as well as all the corporate guys calling Signature. Having to monitor 121.5 on VATSIM, and NOT having that stuff… Would totally break immersion.

On another note… I’m 10000% in favor of adopting some new RTCA standard which digitally fingerprints every transmission. Meowing would stop overnight after a few certificate enforcement actions.


In the states, the following real world procedures are in order. Let’s say you are flying an airplane with one radio. If you take off (VFR) from a class D airport (control towered) you would follow the normal VATSIM procedures of ATIS, Clearance Delivery (if required), Ground Control, Tower. If your airport falls within Class C airspace, you would be assigned a Departure Frequency, until cleared of the Class C. After clearing Class C, I strongly advise asking for Flight Following, but that is dependent on the work load of the controller. If he is to busy then it is appropriate to monitor 121.5 (Emergency Frequency) during your flight.
If you take off from a non-controlled airport you get current weather on AWOS. After that monitor and use CTAF until out of the ATA (airport traffic area), After that I (again) recommend Flight Following if available. If not available monitor 121.5.

If you are flying (in close proximity) with another airplane who is your friend you have another frequency where you can talk and “chit chat”. That frequency is easy to remember as it is called “Fingers” in the real world. 123.45 is designated “a pilot to pilot frequency” and is used a lot.

It would be nice to incorporate some of this into VATSIM for added realism. I can’t tell you how many new real world students I have had in the past that go to 122.8 after leaving the ATA. I know where they have been flying immediately, and I know I have a good student who will need minimal instruction and direction.

Regards to all-
Ed Ward
FAA Number 2076394

Greetings, Ed. Fellow ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI here.

While part of what you wrote is strictly correct, including “…you can talk and ‘chit chat’…” and “is used a lot”, you are incorrect that 123.45 is designated or otherwise meant to be a general pilot-to-pilot frequency. So, while you technically can, you are not allowed to:slight_smile:

123.45 is designated for use in aircraft flight-testing and transoceanic communications.

I acknowledge lots of people use “fingers” to chat. And I’m not a wet rag hunting any of them down or reporting them. :slight_smile:

I just wanted to point the real information out to you because it is a frequent misunderstanding, and wouldn’t want you passing that misinformation on, both to VATSIM folks and more importantly to real-world students.

There are lots of resources and articles out there on the topic, but I offer these to you as additional source information for my post, above.

FAA AIM 4-1-11b (https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim_html/chap4_section_1.html)



1 Like

My CFI used 123.45 for me to talk to him if needed on my first solo

OK Don
Thanks for pointing that out.
Ed Ward

This is a myth that keeps getting repeated. ICAO designates 123.45 “to enable aircraft engaged in flights over remote and oceanic areas out of range of VHF ground stations to exchange necessary operational information and to facilitate the resolution of operational problems” (Annex 10, Volume V, Chapter 4). It is not for general chatting. On VATSIM, necessary operational information can already be exchanged on UNICOM and all frequencies are for operational use only.

In the USA, 123.4 and 123.45 are reserved by the FCC for non-government flight test operations by specifically licensed commercial aircraft and equipment manufacturers. It is outright illegal to use them for air to air communications.

OK, here are my takeaways on this thread so far.

Finger’s (123.45)
With VATSIM approval, a Virtual Airline, that has a group flight across the pond, might be approved to use Finger’s when out of range of any controller or controlled airspace. Details would have to be worked out, like monitoring HF, CPDLC, or in contact with a possible controller through ADS-C.

Use of 121.5
Again, with VATSIM approval, 121.5 would replace 122.8 when leaving controlled airspace. This frequency would be monitored by a VATSIM supervisor who would not be a “policeman” but act like a real controller monitoring 121.5 that is there to give aid and assistance.
The following is presented to keep interest going in this thread. I must admit to you that in the real world past I would transmit on 121.5. I was not in any emergency, nor airspace violation. I was not involved in any “cat calls” or miss use of the frequency. I would wait until the time was right and openly transmit on 121.5 with great glee and delight! Sometimes, I would do this several times a day. I was in FULL compliance with FAA policies and directives. Can anyone guess what I was doing. Post your answer here. I will check back in a week and give you the correct answer.
Ed Ward, Jr.