Savannah – Today turned out to be a fairly interesting day on the radios. The 2016 UN General Assembly is taking place this week and today I caught four flights that are more than likely related to it: two Japanese Air Self Defense Force executive flights and two Colombian Air Force executive flights passed by Savannah going southbound along the Atlantic coast.
JAPANESE AIR FORCE 001 (747, 20-1102, 701 Hikotai, JASDF) and JAPANESE AIR FORCE 002 (747, 20-1101, 701 Hikotai, JASDF) showed up on Mode-S/ADS-B as they flew south along the Georgia coast around lunchtime. I also caught them with Jacksonville ARTCC on 132.425. News reports showed that the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe gave a speech at the General Assembly yesterday, so it would be a safe guess that he and the Japanese delegation were on 001; 002 was probably along in a support or backup role. Both aircraft are rare catches in this area, the only time I’ve logged them before was in 2004 and that was because a G-8 summit was held on the Georgia Coast. The screen captures below show them plotted off of the Savannah coast while I was hearing them on 132.425; there’s also a short clip of 001’s audio with Jax Center.
I also caught two Colombian Air Force 737s on Mode-S, but one wasn’t transmitting ADS-B data and I didn’t catch them on air traffic control. The news also shows that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón gave a speech at the General Assembly yesterday so it’s also a safe guess that these two 737s were carrying and/or supporting he and the Colombian delegation. Mode-S data for the 737s is: 0AC182 – 737, FAC1209, ESCTA 811, Colombian AF and A83001 – 737, FAC0001, GRUVE 82, Colombian AF. FAC1209 was the one showing ADS-B data and a screen capture for it is below.
Why were the two Japanese Air Defense Force 747s where they were? I was curious why they were going southbound near Savannah and a search of the news turned up the reason: Shinzo Abe visited Cuba today. It turns out that this is the first visit of a Japanese head of state to Cuba, so it turns out that I caught something that was part of a historic event! As a radio geek and a History geek, this turned out to be a magnificent intercept; you never know what you’re going to hear when you sit down at the radios.