Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Helicopter Man Redux

Few people will recall certified nut case David Thompson, as he railed against the helicopters hovering over his house during a Charlotte City Council meeting. The video from the CP archives is below.

Well Thompson has earned my appreciation...... not really but I thought about his mental breakdown and how some of you would comment about an aircraft buzzing my house at midnight.

I noticed the first pass over my South Charlotte home around midnight. Single engine low, slow and westbound. Loud enough to overcome the din of late night television.

On the second pass, in the opposite direction, again a single engine airplane. I hit the mute button. The distinctive sound of a six cylinder Continental engine humming away though the damp night air, an aircraft flying less than 3000 feet off the ground at midnight is hard to miss.

Screen Capture From FlightAware
A quick check of FlightAware, and sure enough there is one lone aircraft over Charlotte heading East at 3400 feet.

Amateur Photo of Cessna N994RA 
The Cessna 210 also known as a Centurion, tail N994RA made a third pass about 15 minutes later.
My first thought is an aircraft emergency, maybe someone out of Monroe (KEQY) in some sort of trouble. But a click on the flight log shows this disconcerting track. 

Cessna N994RA Flight Track Over Charlotte on 2/11/2015

It doesn't take long for my spy novel government conspiracy overloaded mind to start digging.
Turns out the N994RA is jammed full of equipment, sensors and listening devices. Packed with computer equipment and data collection devices that are a little known dirty secret of the FCC and federal government agencies.
The single engine aircraft is owned by Mar-Tech Engineering, LLC. Sadly it is not linked to any "black ops" shell company across the Potomac from CIA headquarters. But a cable industry support business head quartered in Jacksonville Florida.
Seems that major cable providers have a little know problem called "leakage".  With millions of miles of cable, some of it pretty old, there is considerable RF signal leakage and it just happens to be in the same radio spectrum as cellphone LTE signals.
And then there is this, the leakage can in some cases over power emergency services hand held units. Nothing more distressing than to be a cop on a foot chase in the dark, and when you key your radio and no one can hear you.
So Mar-Tech has a fleet of 10 aircraft that patrol the skies looking for "hot spots" that on the ground are hard to locate.
The cable industry is subject to huge fines for this leakage and so Mar-Tech takes to the skies at night to track down these rouge signals, collecting data and helping sort out the mess of old leaky TWC equipment and cables.
For techo geeks there is this document which details the Mar-Tech operation.


Anonymous said...

I've wondered about that plane. I hear it all the time

Cedar Posts said...

Lab Corp runs a high performance single from Columbia to Concord every night Monday-Friday around midnight.

The route is Ballantyne right up the middle of South Charlotte and Myers Park at about 3,000 feet.

Anonymous said...

Cedar, why do you keep singling out and re-posting this man's public breakdown? It's needless and pointless and cruel, just to make what you think is a joke of him and his trouble. The man is/was obviously ill and a decent person responds to this with compassion, not mockery.

How many years will you continue to use his illness for your amusement or profit?

Please stop. Please take down the video.
You are capable of writing a story about surveillance without it.

Cedar Posts said...

David Thompson's breakdown if that is what you would like to call it, is epic. Pat McCory's befuddlement was just as entertaining.

But I wasn't so much making fun of Thompson as much as I was understanding how he might have been feeling.

In this case it midnight and there is this plane overhead, and there it is again and once again and I'm wondering am I the only one noticing this?

Does anyone care? Are they after me? If not who then?

So in a way I was really paying homage to Helicopter Man, I feel his pain and understand his frustration just without the paranoia.

Or at least I think without the paranoia.

On the other hand maybe my tinfoil hat isn't working again.