Apollo 16, Vintage Amateur Radio, a Walk Along the Congaree River, and a Visit to the Zoo – Columbia, SC Road Trip Radio Report; 10/11 April 2022

The South Carolina State Museum is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission to the moon and South Carolinian Charlie Duke’s walk on the moon with an exhibit and planetarium presentation about the mission, so I took a road trip up US-321 to Columbia to see it on Sunday. Instead of coming back to Savannah that afternoon, I decided to stay overnight and visit the Riverbanks Zoo on Monday morning before heading home. During the trip, I listened to Amateur Radio, Aviation, MilCom, and Public Safety communications. The southern part of the trip on US-321 doesn’t offer much to hear, but activity increases once you get close to Orangeburg and only gets more active as you get closer to Columbia.

South Carolina State Museum

The South Carolina State Museum recently opened a new exhibit honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 16 mission to the moon. Astronaut Charlie Duke is from South Carolina and he was one of the Apollo 16 astronauts who walked on the moon during the mission. Among the items in the exhibit are a space helmet and glove worn by Duke, one of Duke’s flight suits, a replica training moon rover, and a moon rock brought back by the Apollo 16 crew. The planetarium at the museum is also offering a presentation on the Apollo 16 mission that shows where Apollo 16 landed on the moon in relation to the rest of the Apollo missions and explains why they chose that landing site.

Radio enthusiasts would enjoy one of the museum’s permanent exhibits: amateur radio equipment that belonged to Cayce, SC amateur radio operator Charles Hafely, W4NZA. Among the items on display are a 1931 homebrew transmitter and a 1915 Wireless Specialty Co crystal detector, a 1921 Western Electric audio amplifier, a 1959 Hallicrafters Skyrider Defiant receiver, and some Heathkit equipment.

The museum sits along the Congaree River, so while I was there I took a walk along the river through an adjacent park. During my walk, I came across a small urban waterfall on a creek that runs into the Congaree. It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon and there were plenty of wading birds along the riverside and turtles sunning along the banks but unfortunately I didn’t have the DSLR with me at the time.

Riverbanks Zoo

When I planned my trip to Columbia, I forgot that school would probably be out for a Spring/Easter break and it must have been – the Riverbanks Zoo was pretty busy for a Monday morning! The morning started out in the mid-40s, but once the sun came up it warmed up nicely, making it a beautiful morning for walking around the zoo. As usual, I enjoyed to listening to the zoo’s radio traffic while I was wandering around:

453.3125 (DCS 051) – Riverbanks Zoo Maintenance
453.3250 (DCS 071) – Riverbanks Zoo Ops
462.5250 (DCS 125) – Riverbanks Zoo Public Safety

The Zoo Ops channel, to me, is the most interesting one to listen to. You can hear keepers and veterinary staff talking about the animals and sometimes when animals are off exhibit, listening to it can give you a heads up about when they’re coming out.

Amateur Radio

Last month, while visiting Charleston, I didn’t hear much amateur radio activity but this trip to Columbia was different. I heard four DMR repeaters active and seven analog repeaters. Before I added DMR capability to KF4LMT mobile, the area between Garnett and Fairfax seemed to be a bit of a dead zone but on this trip I discovered that the Charleston South SCHEART DMR repeater seems to cover at least part of the area.

442.3875 (DMR CC1) – Charleston South
147.0300 (PL 156.7) – Barnwell
147.3750 (PL 91.5) – Barnwell
146.8800 (PL 123.0) – Orangeburg
440.5875 (DMR CC1) – Orangeburg
146.7150 (PL 91.5) – Columbia
147.3300 (PL 156.7) – Columbia
440.6125 (DMR CC1) – Columbia Downtown
442.5125 (DMR CC1) – Columbia East
442.8750 (DCS 315) – Columbia
444.8750 (PL 91.5) – Columbia


This trip turned out to be really uninteresting from the MilCom/Aviation point of view. I didn’t hear much except for an E-6, BOWEN 57, transiting near Columbia on Sunday evening and VIPER 2#, a flight of SC ANG F-16s on Monday. The Fort Jackson sites of the US Army TRS didn’t even seem to be as active as they have on previous visits. Perhaps it had something to do with the coming Easter holiday.

Columbia/McEntire JNGB
119.500/257.800 - Columbia Metro Airport Tower
123.075 - Unicom, Jim Hamilton-LB Owens Airport
132.400/253.500 - McEntire JNGB Tower
124.150/133.400/285.600/338.200 - Columbia TRACON
298.300 - 169th FW/157th FS Ops
140.125 - 169th FW/157th FS V15

US Army TRS (Fort Jackson sites)
 TG 555 - Fort Jackson Fire Control; enc
 TG 737 - Fort Jackson Range Control; unenc
 TG 770 - Fort Jackson DPW; unenc

Sumter/Shaw AFB
125.400/318.100 - Shaw AFB TRACON

Beaufort/MCAS Beaufort
125.125/292.125/123.700/269.125 - Beaufort App/Dep    

Charleston/Joint Base Charleston 
120.700/306.925 - Charleston TRACON

Jacksonville ARTCC
281.550/124.075 - Jax Center Summerville High
285.650/126.125 - Jax Center Statesboro High
290.350/132.425 - Jax Center Hunter Ultra High
317.550/134.375 - Jax Center Charleston Low
319.200/127.875 - Jax Center Aiken High
363.200/132.925 - Jax Center Allendale/Savannah Low
370.950/133.625 - Jax Center Georgetown High

Atlanta ARTCC
269.625/123.950 - Atlanta Center Sinca Low
307.050/126.425 - Atlanta Center Dublin High
322.325/128.100 - Atlanta Center Augusta Low

Public Safety

I don’t know what was in the water around Columbia on Sunday evening, but it sounded like there were an unusually high number of motor vehicle crashes compared to previous visits; they were keeping the medevac helicopters busy for sure. Columbia/Richland County and Lexington County were busy as always, but once you get south of Orangeburg, you’re in a more rural area and things just aren’t as busy. South of Orangeburg, don’t be surprised if your radio(s) don’t make much noise until you get closer to Hardeeville. One thing was generating some radio traffic on the southern end of the trip – on Monday afternoon there was a sizeable forest fire on the east side of US-321 near Garnett that generated some radio traffic on the SC Forestry Hampton repeater.

Palmetto 800
 TG 550 - Hilton Head Island Fire/Rescue Dispatch
 TG 552 - Hilton Head Island Fire/Rescue Tac 1 (Beaufort Co)
 TG 704 - Beaufort County FD Dispatch 1
 TG 6541 - Jasper County FD Dispatch
 TG 6542 - Jasper Co FD Tac 1
 TG 6543 - Jasper County FD Tac 2
 TG 20019 - SC Mutual Aid 9
 TG 20020 - SC Mutual Aid 10
 TG 23541 - Kershaw County FD Dispatch
 TG 23641 - Kershaw Co Air Ops
 TG 24531 - Lexington County FS Ops 1
 TG 24532 - Lexington County FS Ops 2
 TG 24539 - Lexington County FS Ops 9
 TG 24542 - Lexington County FS Dispatch
 TG 24910 - Irmo FD Talk (Lexington Co)
 TG 25053 - Orangeburg County FD Dispatch
 TG 25057 - Orangeburg County FD Page
 TG 25552 - Columbia FD Dispatch (Richland Co)
 TG 25553 - Columbia FD Ops 1 (Richland Co)
 TG 25556 - Columbia FD Ops 4 (Richland Co)
 TG 25557 - Columbia FD Ops 5 (Richland Co)
 TG 25558 - Columbia FD Ops 6 (Richland Co)
 TG 25559 - Columbia FD Command 1 (Richland Co)
 TG 25569 - Richland County ESD 5 Hazmat/Fire Marshal/Coroner
 TG 25570 - Richland County ESD 6 Tac
 TG 26101 - Sumter County FD 1
 TG 28106 - SC EMD Midlands
 TG 28181 - SC EMD Call
 TG 28609 - SC LifeNet (Medevac Helicopters)
 TG 27505 - DHEC Hospital Net Main
 TG 32065 - Hampton County FD
 TG 51704 - MedTrans SC Helicopters
155.9400 (PL 85.4) - Allendale County EMS Dispatch 

159.2700 (PL 203.5) - SC Forestry Piedmont Ops
159.3300 (DCS 271) - SC Forestry Lake Murray
159.3750 (DPL 116) - SCFC Hampton


As always, no road trip is complete without good food and this trip was no different. On Sunday evening, I decided to try something different and went to a Caribbean restaurant. I went to Pon Di River Caribbean Bar and Bistro in Columbia and tried something I’d never had before: Ackee and Saltfish, which the menu said is the national dish of Jamaica. Ackee is a type of fruit I’d never had before and the combination with salted fish was unexpectedly delicious. On Monday, before heading back to Savannah I stopped by one of my favorite sandwich shops – the East Bay Deli in West Columbia and had one of their Charleston Phillies.

Ackee and Saltfish with Macaroni and Cheese at Pon Di River Caribbean Bar and Bistro in Columbia, SC

The Charleston Philly from the East Bay Deli in West Columbia, SC

I’m planning a week-long north Georgia road trip for June, so this is probably my last road trip until then. The Month of May should be an active radio month in the Savannah area, though. Georgia Air National Guard social media has been announcing a Sentry Savannah exercise in May, so I’ll be wanting to stay in town to hear some of it. If any of my my readers are familiar with DMR repeaters in the North Georgia area, particularly around Dahlonega, Helen, and Clayton, I’d love to hear which repeaters and talkgroups I should listen to while I’m up there.

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