Overheard one evening as a Fayetteville, North Carolina controller was working with a Cessna that was requesting flight following. The Cessna had problems with a fussy transponder and the controller was attempting to help. After several exchanges:
"N1234, I'm still getting an inconsistent transponder return. Confirm squawking 4567."
"N1234 squawking 4567."
"N1234, transponder return is still inconsistent. Try squawking 5678."
"N1234 squawking 5678."
"N1234, I have a good return now. Could you say the type?"
"N1234. It's a piece-of-crap [redacted] transponder. Don't ever buy one."
... long pause ...
"Oh, you meant the aircraft. Skyhawk."
Tower keyed the microphone, but only laughter came through.
Yes, we know there's no "8" to squawk. The error crept in when we genericized the numbers for publication, and we've left it here in the archive. If nothing else, it generated some great e-mail — this one being our favorite.
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