I've been listening to the Phoenix Tower LiveATC feed, and I hear references to "Hee-lah" (Gila?) One and the 101 transition with helicopters (see audio files below):




Does anyone know what these are? References would be appreciated if possible. Thanks!

  • $\begingroup$ I have all IFR procedures on my iPad and cannot find a SID or STAR into or out of PHX with a similar name. Is the airport Phoenix Sky Harbor? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, Phoenix Sky Harbor. I looked on Airnav and on Skyvector and couldn't find a departure chart with "HELO" on it. I also checked the TAC chart and didn't see anything. $\endgroup$
    – slantalpha
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ Are these recent recordings? $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ You should be looking for Gila. It's the name of a highway, a town, a monster and who knows what else. and 101 is a freeway both east and west of Sky Harbor. $\endgroup$
    – Tim Nevins
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ Has anyone gotten a good answer on this? I too was listening in on KPHX North/South tower frequency and heard a number of helps request and be cleared for a “Helo-1” route....or possibly a “GILA-1” route VFR $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 2, 2019 at 3:14

5 Answers 5


The Gila is a river that runs through Arizona, so that may be a visual reporting point for incoming aircraft.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Through Arizona and, more specifically, through Phoenix! $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 14:27

This is second hand information but I've heard from a reputable source that "Gila One" is a reference to the LOA for HEMS, law enforcement and news choppers operating in and around the PHX Bravo. It defines altitudes and transition procedures for those operators but is not a "public procedure". You can probably request a copy of the LOA from the airport manager. And as others have said, the 101 is the major North/South interstate on the east side of the airport and passes through the surface Bravo.


The Helo One is a Helicopter only special signatory and training required ATC procedure that provides procedural access to the PHX class B airspace.

It is not a published procedure. You must have been briefed and signed an LOI with the TRACON (not the tower). It is not an IFR procedure, and it is not listed in NAV programs. Its not a route either. Its is purely an authorization to operate in the PHX class B.

Transition areas are provided for helicopters to cross under the final approach paths providing proper separation from Sky Harbor traffic with little or no radio traffic requirements once contact and clearance is obtained. There are east/west transition areas on the north and south sides of the airport as well.

If you are listening on radio you will hear all north-side users on the TWR frequency for runway 26/8 and all south-side users on the runway 25/7 TWR.

  • $\begingroup$ Would that be an LOA (letter of agreement) instead of an LOI (letter of intent). Or does LOI mean something else? $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 10:50

I have been unable to confirm this as I can't find any helicopter specific charts for the area, but I think they are asking for the HELO one route and the 101 is apparently a major highway in the area and probably a local vfr reference point.

Bigger airports may have separate published helicopter routes to arrive and depart helicopters away from the pattern traffic.


There was once a GEELA STAR. I can’t find a good image of the chart for it, though. In 2013 the FAA did an optimization of theMetroplex airspace, the result of which was that the GEELA STAR was replaced by the HYDRR STAR.

If you look at the frequency information on the Airnav page for KPHX you will see that there is a frequency assigned for the GEELA STAR. I can only speculate that ATC might still use GEELA informally for helicopter traffic.

  • $\begingroup$ GEELA is the waypoint after HYDRR on the HYDRR STAR. However, the OP's first audio clip was for a departure, so it doesn't make sense that they'd be referring to a STAR. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenS It's not exactly a departure. They're coming from heliports west of the airport, passing through the terminal area to destinations on the east side. I find no evidence of there being any published helicopter procedures. Although GEELA STAR is no longer published as such, they still list a frequency for it, so it must be still used for something. It's all a guess, really $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 20:38

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