TRACON: "Very Small, Very Fast" (Arizona)

Jon Adams

At 1040 MST this morning, I was working on my network router, in the same room where there's a aircraft frequency scanner running. On 126.8 MHz (TRACON PHX South Departure) the ATC person (deep, distinctive voice) announced that "several" flights had reported a "very small, very fast, aircraft at one-six-thousand west of BROAK", and that he was unable to see it on his radar. He repeated this several times over 5 minutes or so. Waypoint BROAK is over the Superstition Mountains east of PHX, about 47 statute miles due east of my location. No mention of a/c direction, ground elevation there in the 3-5k feet range. I have no direct ADS-B coverage from my home site in that direction. On Flightaware, saw nothing there over several minutes.

BROAK is inside the Outlaw MOA (Military Operations Area).

The first image that came to mind is the typical balloon cluster down below; with departure flights at or around FL18 there, something like that, nearly still, would whip across the field of view pretty quickly...

Always interesting monitoring the a/c bands...

Cheers - Jon

Easy Muffin

Active Member
The first mention appears to be from 1733z, 10:30 MST, by AAL2320 to Albuquerque Center (Sector 38 Miami Low on 132.9).

AAL2320: And AAL2320, something just flew off our right side, about 500 or 1000 ft below us, are you working any aircraft down there?
CTR: AAL2320, no I'm not working any aircraft that are in your vicinity and I'm not working anybody within you by five miles, I don't see anybody out there at least.
AAL2320: Okay, something fairly small, couldn't quite make it out, but definitely off our right side, [???] 1000 ft below us.
CTR: A thousand feet below and off the right side, how far off the right side?
AAL2320: About a mile or two.
CTR: Okay. Yeah, I don't show any primary targets out there, I'll talk Phoenix and see what they say.
AAL2320: Alright.

My initial guess would be military traffic. There's talk of a couple F-35's on the dep frequency not much later so they had some flights up at that time and in that vicinity. Looks like it's not uncommon in the area.