A very strange press release came out of the FAA yesterday. Starting today, if you find yourself anywhere in the entire southeastern United States, there is a very high probability your GPS will not work at any given time. The federal government is conducting top secret tests in this massive zone but is not releasing any further information. I don’t know about you, but the first thought that came to mind was the scene in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind when the army was gathering their ammunition near Devil’s Tower and shipping it there via tractor trailers that appeared to be owned by various fast food restaurants. Little did they know what was actually inside the trucks. God only knows what the feds are up to down there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a whole lot more birds drop out of the sky over the next four weeks. Also worth noting: nowhere in the press release does it indicate that even the FAA knows what the Department of Defense is up to with these “tests”. Or who knows; maybe they’re preparing Brunswick, Georgia as the landing spot for the second coming of Christ? Or to announce that Elvis is still alive? So many possibilities!
WASHINGTON D.C. | Federal Aviation Administration FLIGHT ADVISORY: GPS Testing in Brunswick, Georgia (released January 19, 2011): The United States Department of Defense will conduct GPS tests on January 20th through February 22nd, 2011. During testing, the GPS signal may be unreliable or unavailable.
1) LOCATION: Centered at 304906N/0802811W or the location known as 105.25º and 52.1 nautical miles from the SSI VOR.
2) DATES AND TIMES: Testing is scheduled on January 20th through February 11th, 2011 from 0000-0245 UTC daily and February 15th through February 22nd, 2011 from 0000-0245 UTC daily. These tests may not be concurrent so pilots are advised to check NOTAMs (Notice To Airmen) frequently for possible changes prior to operating in the area.
3) DURATION: Several test events will be conducted and will be active for 45 minutes followed by 15 minutes of off time.
4) During testing, GPS will be unreliable and may be unavailable within a circle with a radius of 370 nautical miles and centred at 304906N/0802811W, or the location known as 105.25º and 52.1 NM from the SSI VOR at FL400; decreasing in area with a decrease in altitude to a circle with a radius of 325 nautical miles at FL250; a circle with a radius of 260 nautical miles at 10,000 ft. MSL and a circle with a radius of 215 nautical miles at 4,000 ft. AGL.
5) Pilots are highly recommended to report anomalies during testing to the appropriate ARTCC to assist in the determination of the extent of GPS degradation during tests. The NOTAMs discussed in this advisory may change with little or no notice. Pilots are advised to check NOTAMs frequently for possible changes prior to operations in the area. NOTAMs will be published at least 24 hours in advance of any GPS tests.