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Last week, my wife and I heard this radio exchange while flying across Texas: ... San Angelo Approach: "Cardinal XXX, you got time for a quick question?" ... Cardinal XXX: "Sure." ... SJT Approach (in a deep Texas drawl): "Is there somethin' special about your flight today? Special cargo or something?" ... Cardinal XXX: "Nope." ... San Angelo Approach: "They just have you on a beacon code that's usually reserved for unusual stuff." ... Cardinal XXX: "Well, that's the only code my transponder'll squawk, so they let me have it." ... Anonymous Aircraft: "Nice." ... Cardinal XXX: "Well, I tried hittin' it with a hammer but " ... SJT: [Amused laughter while trying to think of something else to say.] ... We laughed all the way to San Antonio. More

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During the early '70s, Pappy Wilkes, a former Piedmont Airlines DC-3 captain, was flying a pressurized Queen Air 88 along the east coast of Florida. He had been cleared to climb to 15,000. Being hot and heavy, the 88 was very slow climbing. ... An impatient ATC controller asked Pappy when he expected to reach his assigned altitude. ... Pappy, in his best Southern drawl, responded: "What time do you get off?" ... The controller said: "1600." ... And Pappy replied: "I might make it by then." ... Anyone who remembers Pappy will confirm that this episode was completely in character for him. -- Jim Hamilton More

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I was flying through New York's air space one typical busy Friday afternoon. The controller on 124.07 was shotgunning instructions out to a dozen or more airplanes when a flight instructor grabbed the frequency and started requesting multiple practice approaches into Danbury (CT), thoroughly describing each missed approach and the path to the next approach. He had the frequency for about 20 seconds. I guess he figured he'd better get it all in while he could. The controller came back, obviously annoyed. ... NY Approach: "Aircraft calling for practice approaches, call back later." ... Instructor: "How much later?" ... NY Approach: "How about 9:30 tonight?" -- Jerry Plante More

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Several years ago, a large jet flown by a famous British airline was approaching New York for a landing at JFK. They were still at their cruising altitude of FL 350 and had been asking New York Center for a lower altitude continuously for several minutes. New York Center was very busy and obviously had neglected to clear them to a lower altitude because of their high work load, which was not unusual during the afternoon peak arrival times in New York. Finally, NY Center replied to the crew and asked them if they could descend to 10,000 feet within the next 20 miles from their altitude of FL350. The frustrated captain replied in his best and most proper English: "That is affirmative, sir! However we cannot take the aeroplane with us!" -- Cal Tax More

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I was listening to O'Hare ground one claggy fall night, and several arriving flights were being sent to the penalty box due to delays. One arriving flight protested, saying they were promised their gate would be open. ... Ground: "Flight 123, proceed to the box." ... Flight 123: "But we were promised -- !" ... All of a sudden, several mic clicks could be heard, and the sounds of babies crying filled the frequency: "WaWaWaWaWaah." ... Then silence. ... Then Flight 123: "123 is proceeding to the box." ... Multiple mic clicks of approval accompanied the concession. Talk about being taught a lesson by your peers! I cracked up. -- Steve More

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I fly from a small air field outside Johannesburg, South Africa. When I had less than ten hours experience, I thought it would be a great idea to fly to one of the larger (controlled) air fields closer to Johannesburg to refuel. ... I requested joining and landing instructions from the tower. Very nervously. Tower requested that I report on final approach next. ... In South Africa, the broadcasting language is English, and I speak an indigenous language, Afrikaans. I wanted the aircraft on the apron to expedite because my approach was slow in the light sport aircraft I was flying. ... My language failed me at that moment, and this is what I said: "Tower, ZU-ABC. The aircraft on the apron is welcome to EXCAVATE." -- Eben van Niekerk More

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My son an I were departing SNS one evening in a Cessna 182 with my son at the controls and his two-year-old daughter in the back seat. We were cleared for take-off, climbing out, passing through about 1,000 feet when my granddaughter announced she needed to go to the bathroom. My son gave me that look, keyed the mic, and told the controller he needed to return to the airport. ... Tower: "5VX, do you need assistance?" ... My son: "Only if you would like to take my two-year-old to the bathroom." ... The controller declined! -- Robert McGregor More

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Heard on climb-out shortly after taking off behind a Bonanza A36: ... Bonanza: "Departure, this is Bonanza 12A. Ahh, we just got started here but need to come back." ... Departure Control: "Bonanza 12A, understand you want to return to the field." ... Bonanza: "Affirmative. 12A." ... Departure Control: "Bonanza 12A, do you need any assistance?" ... Bonanza: "No. We just left the dog in the car." ... Departure Control: "Roger. Bonanza A12, turn right to 350 for sequencing. Expect runway 8L." -- Rick Harris More

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The Swiss Air Force PC-7 aerobatic team was returning in nine-ship Formation to Locarno Magadino Air Field (LSZL) some years ago. ... Team Leader: "Locarno Tower, Turbo 947 nine-ship inbound to split overhead." ... TWR Operator: [Gives clearance to enter and split and to report on downwind individually.] ... Then: ... Pilot 1: "Number One downwind." ... TWR: "Number One, report final -- 26R." ... Pilot 2: "Number Two downwind." ... TWR: "Number Two, report final -- 26R." ... And so on. For all nine aircraft. ... Then it gets better, as they mix downwind and final: ... Pilot 1: "Number One. Final, 26R." ... TWR: "Number One, cleared to land -- 26R." ... Pilot 7: "Number Seven downwind." ... TWR: "Number Seven, report final -- 26R." ... Pilot 2: "Number Two. Final, 26R." ... TWR: "Number Two, cleared to land -- 26R." ... Until I hear the following: ... Pilot 5: "Number Five. Final, 26R." ... TWR: "Number Five, you're becoming Number Two. Do you have Number One in sight?" ... There was some clicking of mic buttons, and a voice asked: ... "Did someone check that?!" -- Alex Husy More

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This was one of those days when everyone was getting a bad ride and trying to find a smooth altitude. Everyone was bugging ATC about the ride. As we were coming north off the coast of Florida on our way back to JFK from Montego Bay, a Cactus flight came on and, after complaining about the ride, asked, "Do you know when it will smooth out?" The controller responded, "I just talked to the next sector. He says when your wheels are on the ground." There was a short pause, then Catcus said in a confused voice, "Our destination is Cancun." To which the controller responded, "Yup! I know that." -- Cory Wolf, via e-mail More