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In 2009, I was making multiple flights around the southeast U.S. and landed in Columbia, South Carolina at Columbia Downtown Airport (KCUB) on multiple occasions for business. The runway at KCUB is parallel and adjacent to an active railyard.

After contacting the KCUB tower for my IFR departure clearance on a clear VFR day, the controller came back with a strong southern drawl:
"1234V, cleared for departure, runway 31. Verify you can maintain train clearance."

I said puzzled:
"Say again, Columbia tower?"

The controller repeated:
"1234V, verify you can maintain train clearance."

I puzzled over that for a few moments and replied:
"I'm sorry. I don't understand your request."

The controller, now a little frustrated, said:
"1234V, can you avoid hitting the buildings and the trees?"

I replied:
"Ohhhh. 'Maintain terrain clearance.' Yes, I can maintain terrain clearance!"

The controller resonded:
"1234V, cleared for takeoff, runway 31. Have a good day!"


Robert Jones


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