FlightAware Discussions

Call sign Rhino at KHIO - anyone remember this ?

Greetings :smiley: ,

When I was working on my private pilot license back in 2003 my instructor pointed to unusual aircraft for me, they were always on the apron - had that skunk works grey paint scheme, and just plain looked menacing, which is hard to apply to what they were. One was a Cessna Caravan and the other a Bell Jet Ranger, anyway they had all sorts of antennas protruding from them. Turns out (according to my CFI) that the Caravan flew up and down the I5 corridor scanning and listening to all and every cellphone and general radio transmission. The Jet Ranger flew concentric circles around Portland, again listening to all radio traffic.

Those planes are long gone - but I always wondered if that was true what he said. Anyone have an idea or opinion if that may have been the actual mission for those aircraft ?


Sounds dubious. If you want to fly circles around a city with a bunch of listening equipment there are better aircraft than a Jet Ranger – fixed wings have better load carrying capacity and range. I could see using one as a ad hoc radio relay or surveilance tool, but you wouldn’t want to put it up in the manner given to you.

The Caravan would be much more plausible.

I searched The Google for a few minutes and found several different applications for Caravans and aerial surveys: aerial mapping, Lidar, etc…

Why use an airplane for cell phone snooping when you can just go to Verizon and AT$T and have them do it for you?

NSA does it from the comfort of their office chairs… :slight_smile: