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cell phone oddity

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Well-known member
Jan 28, 2002
Here's a thought-
I went flying a while back and as usual, I called up the gas truck. I looked at my battery indicator on my cell phone, as it was on its last bar of life. I hoped that I would at least get the gas guy on the phone before it died. I flew for a little over two hours and returned to the same airport. When I got out of the plane, the battery indicator on my cell phone was showing three out of four bars of battery life, while before the flight it was showing only one. Is there anything in the airplane that would have caused this charging, or should I sell my phone on ebay as a rare magical airplane power harnessing device:eek: ?
I've had the exact opposite problem. Specifically, I've jumped into the airplane with a fully charged phone then went on a 2 hour cross country flight and land with a completely drained phone. The phone was not used at all during the flight.

I have the same problem with my checking account. I have money in the bank, then go fly, then poof.... no money.

I assume that when I leave my phone on during a cross country flight it uses up alot of energy as it constantly tries to obtain new cells and stay connected. Just my guess; anybody know anything about this?

Yeah, you are supposed to turn OFF your cell phone before flight... You can actually jamb up the cell system because your phone may train on multiple cell sites at the same time...

Also if you continually do this the cell company can figure out whose phone is doing this and send you and the FCC a nasty letter.... Turn your phone off before flight...
That, and the fact that your phone can interfere with avionics, you should leave it off. Depending on what you're flying, the phone, where, your equipment, etc, PED (personal electronic device) interference can be a real issue.

I've run across the country before, and found that folks with whom I've been flying are unable to use their phone. After being tied in to several sites in some many places, the system drops the phone out, and it has to go back to the manufacturer before they can use it again. I've seen folks run into that several times. I've also heard of (haven't personally seen) folks getting charged ridiculous sums for having their phone on in flight.
Actually, digital cell phones used at altitude do not jam up the system like analog phones do. Additionally, the radio interference caused by digital phones does not affect most most avionics equipment.

Analog phones or dual mode phones are another story however. Some of the older analog phones actually cause so much RMI that they can permanently damage the CRT screens used in early glass cockpits; I have seen this first-hand.

Most cell phones fall under the dual-mode category, and thus have no place in a cockpit while on. However, the pure digital cell phones are for the most part harmless.

There are actually groups using this to support unbanning cell phones in flight. I for one hope that never happens b/c this cell phone thing has gotten too out of hand anyways.

You know society is really **CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED**ed up when ppl insist on using cell phones while sitting on the can in public bathrooms. This seems to be a common sight at BWI for some reason, lol.

I have a dual mode phone but I set it to Digital only using it in the analog mode would cost me at least $0.79 a minute.

Well I have yet to have it on in an airplane, but I left it on in a glider once, I even picked it up. The funny part was that it was the glider port, they were wondering if I landed out since it had been 2 hours since they last saw me, and the flight I was flying was only 1 hour long.

I have since found that its a big no-no to do that and I turn it off before everyflight.
Rechargable batteries will "recover" a little power when they are not being used. That's why your phone appears to have more power when you turn it back on. The actual power level is the same, though, and the power indicator will quickly return to where it was before.
I always flew with my Sprint PCS phone off in the C-12 (BE-200) and Cobra, but I threw it in my helmet bag to use in case we broke down somewhere or were running late. Occasionally however, I forgot to turn it off, or the power button got bumped and it turned itself on.

I was in the front seat of the AH-1 with the GIB (guy in the back) flying, on short final to home field, and I heard this faint ringing. Grabbed my bag from behing the seat armor and it was the Missus needing me to pick up some milk on the way home. Had to pull my helmet off to talk at her as we taxied back into the line, and I dinged myself on the debrief for breaking a sterile cockpit below 10 grand. (But wait, we were always below 10 grand). :D

One thing though, you'd be suprised at what EMI can do in a cockpit. One of the more boring test series I had to do at Pax River when I was a test pilot there was to ground turn a Cobra for several hours at a stretch on a grounded field ramp, while the engineers zapped the aircraft with RF energy in varying frequencies, modulations, and strengths. It would turn things on and off in the cockpit, mess up the gauge readings and radio performance, and occasionally caused minor engine hiccups. Nothing to fool around with.

We had a handheld field meter and they told us to let them know if the needle ever got into the red. :eek:

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