ATC Frequently Asked Questions
I get plenty of email every day about how great live air traffic control is. People listen to it in their office, at their house, at parties, at the in-laws, etc. There is no better way to learn to be comfortable with the radio than to spend time listening to other people make mistakes.
I do get questions from time to time about the streams, how they work, or how to make them work. I wanted to take a few minutes to address the most commonly asked questions, just in case you wanted to know.
I can't get the ATC to work? What do I need to do to listen to ATC?
First, don't panic. We have had a chance to test the ATC window on just about every platform and web browser. If you can't hear any audio, you may need to take a few minutes and upgrade your audio plugin. This system is designed to use the free RealAudio RealPlayer software. As long as you have access to the internet (I'd say we have that one covered if you are reading this), and don't mind spending a few moments hunting around the RealPlayer website, you can upgrade your software very quickly.
Why can't I always hear both sides of the conversation with ATC?
A few words of advise. First, don't trick RealAudio into making you purchase their "upgraded" player. They always offer a free player. There is always a text link to it from their home page. They move it all the time to make it hard find, but its there. The download is simple and painless after you find the link. You may not even need to restart your browser to make it work.
Let me know if you have any particular problems and I will see what I can do for you, however, it should work without much of a problem.
This is a good question. Some people have found that after listening to ATC for hours at a time, they will hear only the ATC, and not the aircraft they are directing. You are not hearing things, and there is not a software problem. This is a simple calculation of distances. Most of the streams that you hear do not come DIRECTLY from ATC. They are captured from a remote location (often outside of the airport itself). In fact, anyone with the right equipment could broadcast a live stream of their local tower from their living room. This means that due to location, the aircraft that ATC is talking to may be out of range of the receiving station while ATC is not. It all depends on the station itself.
Why can't I access some of the ATC?
All of the ATC streaming stations operate independently and are not affiliated with 4VFR.COM. Each has their own operating guidelines and schedules. Many have a set limit to the number of streams they will provide at any given time. You may find that some stations are just 'full up' of streams right at this moment, and that trying back in 5 minutes may just do the trick. You may also find that some stations have a limit to the length of time that you can tune in (hours usually) before they give you the boot. Nothing personal, they just want us to play nice and share with others.
I'm on a Mac. Why does my browser open a RealPlayer window on top of the 4VFR audio window?
Umm.. that's not a bug.. that's a feature! No, just kidding. Be it known that I operate Mac only, so this is as much a question and a raw attempt to get some coding help myself as it is an answer. Mac users may find that the pop-up audio window will pop up ANOTHER default real audio console, instead of keeping the audio controls embedded in the window. For some reason, this only appears to be a problem on a Mac. Mac users can get around this by using Netscape 4.7, which does not have this problem. This is most likely a coding problem on my part, OR a embed issue with real player. If anyone has a workaround for me on this, please let me know. Otherwise, just blame it on RealPlayer (they are big and I am just an army of one.)
Why isn't my airport listed?
Do you know of a local live ATC audio stream that you would like to see listed here? What are you, new? Give me a call! Send me an email! I consider any audio stream link that is sent to me. I do have a few set guidelines to new streams however. The stream must be considered stable enough to be accessible [almost] all the time. I don't really want to post streams that are only active the second Tuesday of the month between the hours of 11:30 and 3:00 unless I have a really good reason to do so.
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