Does the FAA or FCC recommend 123.5 as the preferred frequency for air-to-air and air-to-ground use by glider pilots or balloon pilots speaking to other glider or balloon pilots or ground support crew, as opposed to the other "aviation support" frequencies, such as 121.95, 122.775, and 122.85?

Context: In the US, what radio frequency or frequencies should be used by glider pilots and balloon pilots for air-to-air and air-to ground communications?


123.300 and 123.500 MHz are recommended by FCC.

FCC 87.323:

The frequencies 121.950, 123.300 and 123.500 MHz are available for assignment to aviation support stations used for pilot training, coordination of lighter-than-air aircraft operations, or coordination of soaring or free ballooning activities.

Applicants for 121.950 MHz must coordinate their proposal with the appropriate FAA Regional Spectrum Management Office. The application must specify the FAA Region notified and the date notified. Applicants for aviation support land stations may request frequency(ies) based upon their eligibility although the Commission reserves the right to specify the frequency of assignment.

Aviation support mobile stations will be assigned 123.300 and 123.500 MHz. However, aviation support mobile stations must operate only on a noninterference basis to communications between aircraft and aviation support land stations.

See your related question for soaring example of use. From this other answer, the FAA position for air-to-air communication with aircraft other than gliders and balloons:

The air-to-air frequency is 122.75. Remember that everyone in the air is using this frequency; transmissions should be kept brief. A balloon pilot trying to contact a circling airplane would try 122.75 first.

The air-to-air frequency is the common one (122.75 MHz), but extended air-to-air communications for gliders and balloons and coordination with the ground support will be done on 123.300 and 123.500 MHz.

If these answers are not exactly what you wanted to know, tell me so I can complete them.

  • $\begingroup$ So it appears that as far as the FAA and FCC are concerned,123.3 and 123.5 are both equally preferable for air-to-air and air-to-ground (and ground-to-air) communications within the soaring and ballooning communities, but the other frequencies I mentioned are not. Does that about sum it up? $\endgroup$ Jul 25 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ Correct. To me these two frequencies are seen as chat frequencies needed for specific coordination of gliders and manned balloons and their supports (while actual air-to-air for all aircraft is still 122.75 MHz; but communications on 122.75 are expected to be short). I've seen online the use of one frequency as primary and the other as backup, e.g. during competitions. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jul 25 at 13:42

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