When I got my pilots license in 1975, a lost airplane could call almost any FSS and get a DF (Directional Finder) steer. The range was probably upto 30mi. I would request a practice one every 3-4 years. The last practice DF steer I did was 15-20yrs ago.

Can you still get DF Steers (or an equivalent) from FSS?


Direction finders outside of Alaska were decommissioned in 2007 as GPS and and ADS-B, as well as older technologies, have made the DF services obsolete. The DF services in Alaska were decommissioned in 2013.

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Last time I asked an FSS about this (mid 2000's) they said if you called up lost they'd just ask you to squawk ident, ask the ARTCC who's scope you were on and then hand you off to them for radar service. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Mar 7 '18 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of aircraft don't have transponders. DF used the com radio. $\endgroup$
    – jwzumwalt
    Mar 9 '18 at 4:43

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