I was reading a response someone made where they said “while in flight, call the tower on the cellphone.” It got me thinking, where would I find the phone number to call the control tower in an emergency?
So, I am in flight and loose my radios, I have my Garmin GPS, my sectional charts, and my cellphone with foreflight on it. Where would I find the tower telephone number? Do I just call FSS and have them relay. I can be sure that in an emergency, once I get someone on the phone, I am not hanging up to call someone elese that may not answer, or I copied the phone number wrong.
All kidding aside, David, use Google. Type the facility name in Google and see what it returns. This is the quickest way to search for an ATC phone number. If it is on the web, Google will find it.
I have even found ATC facilities that maintain Facebook pages, with phone numbers, using a Google search. If that fails, try faa.gov, but I can tell you that search is intensive, is hit or miss, and mostly miss. It is never my first choice.
If you cannot access the internet while in flight, try the FSS route.
I am telling you this as you noted an emergency in flight. FCC regulations prohibit cell phone use while airborne, otherwise.
Some tower phone numbers are in the Chart Supplement (green book, formerly A/FD), Section 4 Associated Data, and occasionally in the A/FD Section 2 entry for that airport. But what you can always find in the A/FD Section 2 of the Chart Supplement is the phone number of the ATC facility having jurisdiction over that airport, i.e., Center or Approach, under the Clearance Delivery title. If you can't find the tower phone, Center/TRACON can either provide it or relay.
Cellular data service in the air is unreliable, especially at higher altitudes. Don't expect to be able to connect to the Internet. Cell tower antennas are oriented for ground use and prevent airborne signals from tying up multiple towers. You can download the entire AF/D Chart Supplement beforehand but it only lists the phone numbers for ARTCC facilities and major airports in the back. ForeFlight Mobile doesn't list control tower or ARTCC numbers. Your best bet is to contact the national FSS number at 1-800-992-7433 if you have cellular voice service and ask for the control tower phone number.
Cellular data service in the air is unreliable, especially at higher altitudes.
True – anywhere above 3000AGL your cellular reliability goes down fast.
You can download the entire AF/D Chart Supplement beforehand but it only lists the phone numbers for ARTCC facilities and major airports in the back.
That used to be true as far as what's listed in Section 4 Associated Data, but a couple of years ago the FAA started listing in the airport's Section 2 A/FD entry a clearance delivery phone number for all airports without 24-hour towers. While that won't get you the Tower, it will get you Approach or Center who can relay to the Tower or get you the Tower's direct phone number.
ForeFlight Mobile doesn't list control tower or ARTCC numbers.
True, but it does include the Chart Supplement in the Documents section to download and automatically update.
Your best bet is to contact the national FSS number at 1-800-992-7433 if you have cellular voice service and ask for the control tower phone number.
Problem with the national FSS number is there's no guarantee of getting the FSS in whose area that Tower is, and then you're hosed. I remember trying to get Burlington VT FSS some years ago and getting Anniston AL instead, and Anniston didn't have any way to contact Boston, which is the facility I needed to call to cancel IFR in Keene NH. Today, the direct line phone number is in the Keene (KEEN) A/FD entry.