I had a buyer from Argentina for my unfinished home built aircraft. For tax purposes, the Argentine government required the aircraft not be registered by the FAA. I sent a letter to the FAA requesting a letter stating that the aircraft had not been registered.
The FAA's reply:
"Your request for the FAA to notify Argentina cannot be accomplished as the aircraft has never been registered."
I don't remember the exact date, but I overheard this conversation with ATC about 35 years ago. Those were the days when we had the old surplus DGs and transponders were not required near busy terminals. Weather was clear, but a cloud layer had formed over the airport and trapped some students on top.
"Tower, this is Cessna 123, and I am lost."
"Roger. Can you tell me your last known position?"
"Yes. I was just west of Ft. Lauderdale, but I can longer see the ground."
"Do you have a transponder?"
"O.K. Turn to a heading of 360."
"I don't have that number!"
"What does your heading indicator say?"
"It says E."
"O.K. Turn to N."
"Roger. Now turn to W."
"Roger. Radar-identified, and now we will steer you to a VFR airport so you can land."
My first flying job was as a flight instructor at Hanger One at Millard Airport (MLE) in Nebraska. One evening in 1989, while working with an instrument student in a Cessna 150, I overheard another instructor, Karl Lindholm, familiarizing his student with tower communications at Epply Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska. With calm winds and no other traffic in the area, the tower was allowing them to perform touch-and-goes on different runways. I then overheard the following:
"Cessna 12345, you are cleared for the option on all runways."
"Roger. So are we cleared to run amok?"
"Affirmative. 12345 is cleared to run amok. Advise when you are ready to return to Millard."
Overflying KLAL en route to KBOW, we overheard a conversation between KLAL tower and a flight of two military pilots flying training approaches. As they declared "going missed," the tower issued missed approach clearances and then asked, "So you are Navy?"
One pilot responded (with obvious pride), "He is Navy, but I am United States Marine Corps."
My co-pilot, who is a retired Navy Commander, couldn't resist entering the conversation and keyed the mike, stating, "If you check that Globe and Anchor, you'll find it says Department of the Navy."
Without a second of hesistation, the military pilot came back with, "Yeah but it's the men's department."
Nothing else needed to be said, and the tower controller was very quiet for several seconds laughing, I assume.
While listening to the approach frequency to LAX (Runway 25L), I heard an airliner report a party balloon at 600 feet during his approach on the ILS. The tower proceeded to report the balloon to the aircraft following. While doing so (and clearing another airliner to land), this communication took place:
"Los Angeles Tower, Airliner 123 at LIMMA for 25L."
"Airliner 123, Los Angeles Tower. Caution: wake turbulence; following a heavy 757 on short final. Aircraft reported a party balloon at 600 feet."
"A what at 600 feet?"
"A party balloon."
"O.K. W'ell be ready to party at 600 feet. Airliner 123."
Due to firefighting activity, our small airport became a heli-base, and we had a temporary FAA tower. I briefed a recently soloed student who had never been out of the area or to a towered airport on procedures. Of course, one point was quickly forgotten and/or possibly overlooked.
"Scott Valley Tower, 123 requesting back taxi to runway 16 run-up area."
"123, you are cleared as requested."
As he was doing his run-up ...
"Cessna 123, hold short for landing traffic and read back 'hold short' instructions."
Cessna 123: [Of course he didn't read back.]
"123, hold short landing traffic."
Cessna 123: [Again, no reply.]
"123, acknowledge and read back 'hold short' instructions."
Cessna 123: [Still no reply.]
"Cessna 123, do you read Scott Valley Tower?"
"Yes, sir, and I'm holding for you to read back instructions!"
On some air bases, the military uses one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side, with the tower in the middle serving both. One day, at one of these fields, a call from an aircraft called in asking, "Hey, Tower, what time is it?"
The tower answered, "Who is calling?"
The aircraft answered, "What difference does it make?"
The tower responded with, "It makes a lot of difference. If you are a civilian aircraft, it's three o'clock; if you're an Army aircraft, it's 1500 hours; if you're a Navy aircraft, it's 3 bells; if you're an Air Force aircraft, the big hand is on 12 and the little hand is on 3; and if you're a Marine aircraft, it's Thursday afternoon and 120 minutes 'til Happy Hour."
This happened some years ago when I was wrenching as an A&P tech at the old TallMantz aviation hangar at John Wayne Orange County Airport in Southern California. The airport is a very busy airport with a tight mix of air carrier and recreational aircraft, causing occasional high stress moments for all. Radio traffic can be fun to listen to when it gets busy and tight.
An American 757 was on short final to 19R when sequencing got a little crossed up, and a light twin pulled out on the runway to begin its take-off roll. The female tower controller issued a go-around command, and assertive she was.
"American XXX, go around, go around."
American XXX(clearly irritated):
"We seem to run into this at this airport often. Do you realize this costs over 3,000 dollars every time it happens?"
Tower(without emotion or hesitation):
"Roger, American XXX, that will be a 3,000-dollar go-around, sir."
A ramp up of turbofan power could be heard in the distance as the aircraft began to climb. I thought, "Wow, she's awesome!" with a chuckle.
Many years ago, as a USAF C-141A/B flight engineer, I was a crew member on a routine supply mission from McGuire Air Force Base (New Jersey) to Thule, Greenland. Oh-dark-thirty take-off. The AC (aircraft commander), Capt. Julie Sangiorgio -- great pilot. We had just been handed off to Moncton Center, from Boston Center, I believe. Julie was the PNF (pilot not flying) and was working all the radio calls.
She reported in to Moncton. The controller said there was confusion on our next waypoint. She replied, "Mount Jolly next" in plain English.
The controller rogered that but said the correct pronunciation was "Mon Jolie."
Capt. Sangiorgio, who spoke four languages, came back in her best French and said something that I didn't undertand.
The Moncton Controller replied, "That's great, MAC XXX, but no one on this shift speaks French.
To that, Capt Sangiorgio replied, "Moncton, in that case, I guess it's Mount Jolly."
This happened about 40 years ago. We had just had a snow storm at the airport I worked at, which was serviced by a commuter airline flying Twin Otters. It was near Christmas, and as the plane took the runway, the pilot announced over the unicom:
"Air North flight XXX is dashing through the snow, runway 23."
As an AIM AIR missionary pilot flying in South Sudan, listening in on Juba International Airport's frequency can provide a few minutes of eye-watering laughs. It is a completely non-radar environment, and all position reports are by radial and DME. Everyone, from the British Airways flights transiting overhead to our small bush airplanes, all share the common frequency.
Last year, I heard this exchange between a Kenya Airways jet and the tower controller after he was done handling half a dozen other aircraft:
"Kenya 543, please state your position."
"Juba, we are on the ground."
"Confirm on the ground!"
"Yes, sir. On the ground."
"Roger. Vacate via taxiway Bravo. Over to the marshaler."
Needless to say, my confidence in their traffic separation abilities went way up!
A friend of mine is a helicopter instructor in Arizona, and a student of his is approaching the cross-country flight portion of flight training. My instructor friend received this text from his student a few days ago:
Hey, you've got me down for a cross-country to TBD. Where is it? I can't find it anywhere!
In the late 1950s, our aero club was transitioning from Tiger Moths without radio to "cabin class" with the addition of a Tri-Pacer and a C-172A, where the flights were made without headsets using the overhead speaker.
It came that an MK-5 Auster we had been restoring was due for test flying, and our chief flying instructor decided he must make the flight. The Auster duly taxied to the far edge of our all-over field, where it sat for five minutes before returning to the tarmac. The CFI climbed out and stated that he could hardly hear the speaker, and please do not waste his time until it was fixed.
Nothing was really said; we just pointed to the earphones hanging behind his head.
Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK, elevation 303 feet) with a long-standing glider club on the field, recently began tower operations. After the tower had been operating for about one week, on a relatively busy Saturday afternoon I heard this exchange:
"Frederick Tower, Glider XXX at 1,600 feet inbound for a right downwind for landing runway 12, with information Sierra ... ."
"Glider XXX, Frederick Tower. Hold your altitude. I have a few ahead of you."
In view of all the recent hurricane news coverage, I recalled a pertinent exchange from the the Port Columbus, Ohio (CMH) tower. I worked at the "Lane Gate" vehicle check point for several years, regularly monitoring the tower frequency to get a "play by play" description of what was going on around me. I overheard the following exchange the day after the remnants of hurricane Ike came through, causing a lot of downed trees and subsequent power outages. A recently landed ERJ was taxiing to the ramp and called the tower:
"CMH Tower, American Eagle 1234. I hear you guys got a lot of wind yesterday. How much did you get?"
"American Eagle 1234, Tower. The highest gust I saw was 68mph, and then the wind thingee blew away."
Royal Flying Doctor Service was flying a B200 IFR out of Broken Hill, Australia and had a young student doctor in the right seat, who was unfamiliar with flying and for whom English was a second language. As the flight progressed, the pilot noticed the student becoming more and more uncomfortable and, after a normal landing, noted an undue amount of relief on the student's face.
"Why are you so relieved?"
"Because we survived the emergency."
"Err, what emergency?"
"You know. I heard you on the radio talking about 'my big dilemma.'"
(She had misheard the call sign "Mike Victor Lima" ... .
This didn't happen on the radio but was a texting classic. The weather was tough, and we needed just a bit of Jet A. And we always take prist. Apparently, autocorrect saw the gravity of the situation. As I texted the other pilot, it came out as:
Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK elevation: 303 feet) with a long-standing glider club on the field recently began tower operations. After the tower had been operating for about a week, on a relatively busy Saturday afternoon, I heard this exchange:
"Frederick Tower, Glider XXX at 1,600 feet inbound for a right downwind for landing runway 12 with information Sierra ... ."
"Glider XXX, Frederick Tower. Hold your altitude. I have a few ahead of you."
Flying my 172 near McGuire Air Force Base on Sunday, VFR with flight following from McGuire Approach. Two Air Force DC-10 tankers were practicing approaches as I flew by, and I offered to climb to stay out of their way. The controller asked me to climb and maintain 2,500 feet.
"TAC 1, turn left, heading 330. Intercept the ILS 24, maintain 2,000' until established. Traffic is a 172 above you at 2,500'. Caution: wake turbulence."
(Silence on the frequency. Did I hear right?)
"Ahhh, Approach -- say again the traffic?"
Approach(a new voice):
"TAC 1, disregard wake turbulence warning. Cleared for the approach."
Me in my 172:
"McGuire, 4RP. Why did you cancel the other guy's wake turbulence warning? You just made my day!"
"Sorry about that, but I had to. I'm the only one here who can talk right now we're all laughing so hard!"
On a Young Eagles flight recently, the 8-year-old girl sitting in the right seat asked me what why I had a switch for "rotting bacon." Confused, I asked her to point to it. Then I said, "Oh, that's for the rotating beacon!"
Listening to the radio in our hangar, we heard the following exchange. After landing at KSTS, a pilot requested to taxi to his hangar. He was given specific instructions and was cleared to his hangar. About 30 seconds later, we heard:
"Santa Rosa Ground, this is Mooney 432XX with a request."
"Mooney 432XX, say request."
"I'd like to change my taxi destination to the shade hangars. I see someone over there who owes me money."
"Change in destination approved. Good luck."
Ten seconds later, we heard:
"Santa Rosa Ground, this is Mooney 432XX with a second request."
"Mooney 432XX, say request."
"If a Citabria requests permission to taxi, please deny request."
"You're a Mooney; you should be able to outrun him."
And now for a slight departure from our usual "Short Final" hijinks:
Many years ago, I heard a radio exchange that, for me, illustrated the great resources and the responsibilities we have as pilots. Climbing into the VFR corridor of the New York TCA, I heard this on the frequency:
"Boston Center, American 123."
"American 123, Boston."
"Company has informed us they have a report of a possible bomb on board."
"Roger, American 123. What are your intentions?"
"We'd like to return to Boston."
"Roger, cleared to Boston."
And that was it! No routing, no questions, no altitudes. Later, they were given the winds and asked which runway they would prefer. I can only assume there was a great deal of activity on other frequencies to clear the sky for the jet.
My point is we don't often dwell on the responsibilities of command when we take off with our families and friends or of the great resources of the ATC which are available if we need them. All it takes is a few words, and, for some period of time, the world will revolve entirely around us. Being ready and able to play our part if the time comes is as important as any other flying skill, and for many of us, why we feel so good to call ourselves pilots.
While I was waiting for departure clearance, a student pilot was departing on a parallel runway and was cleared to cross my intended departure flight path. Concerned of a possible collision, he was maintaining healthy climb.
"Skycatcher 12345: While your climb performance is impressive, I would remind you that Class B Airspace starts at 3,000 feet."
[A long silence followed.]
"Skycatcher 12345 leveling out at 2,500 feet."
Overheard while listening to an area radar center in England during the early '80s. Two United States Air Force Europe fast jets climbing out of a low flying area were trying to locate each other to join formation.
"Ratch 12, where are you?"
"Ratch 13, one mile south of Chester."
"Ratch 12, say again."
An undentified voice, in a strong Western Drawl:
"I'm a-comin', Marshall Dillon!"
Readers of a certain age will remember "Gunsmoke"!
Years ago, I had an interesting ATC encounter in Washington airspace that I think would be humorous to your readers of "Short Final." While flying my RV-4 in the narrow VFR slot between the old Washington ADIZ and the expanded Camp David TFR, I lost my GPS. Without a VOR, I contacted Wash. Center. The call went as follows:
"Washington Center, N1234."
"N1234, go ahead."
"I've lost all nav aids over Frederick, and I'm concerned that I will violate airspace and cause a little excitement. Please give me vectors to keep me out of trouble."
About 40 years ago, when I was learning to fly at Christchurch International in New Zealand, I was holding for take-off on the grass when I heard this exchange from the tower with a visiting farmer who was heading back to the farm.
"You're cleared for take-off runway 29."
"Cleared for take-off; 29.
Tower(a little while later):
"Bravo Chalie Alpha, nice take-off."
"Uh, thank you, tower."
"Just one small thing: Next time, can you use the runway instead of the taxiway?"
After a local excursion to exercise my C-172 engine, I returned to my local airport. There was a helicopter in the area providing position reports. After I announced downwind, the helicopter came on the radio:
"Do you know anything about the airplane crash this morning?"
"No. I have been out of the area, haven't heard anything."
An unidentified source, critical of the excess publicity airplane accidents receive:
"If you want to know what happened, listen to the news."
While working local Control (tower) as a newly minted Air Force controller in the '60s, I often got requests from local pilots for practice DF steers, [our location] having one of the last DFs in the area. The DF console was located on the opposite side of the tower from Local, and I had a number of T-33s trying to land when the following exchange occurred:
"Laughlin Tower, AF123. Request practice DF steer."
I was flying a particularly noisy pusher seaplane back to KPIE one day. These things have the engine right over your head and between the straight-through exhaust and prop swinging by the fuselage. They are super noisy.
On my first radio call to the tower, they came back with:
"Transmission unreadable. Just a loud noise."
I keyed up again, using my loud voice:
"Just a second. Let me shut off the engine."
The tower replied:
It was then obvious to me that my intention to go to idle power had been misinterpreted ... .
My son and I took advantage of a beautiful October day to fly to Blairstown, New Jersey and catch the fall foliage. Sipping a Coke and watching the arrivals and departures, we saw a bright orange Grumman Tiger taxi in. From it emerged a man and a woman; the woman seemed to be carrying a big fur hat in her arms. As they approached, I realized it was a cat!
"You take your cat flying?"
The Woman from the Tiger:
"Yes, and she loves it."
I shook my head in amazement.
The Woman from the Tiger:
"And she's not just a cat she's a Grumman cat!"
I had been holding at Colts Neck VOR in the New York ATC system for about an hour which was not uncommon in the late '60s with others arriving in early evening from the South and the Caribbean.
One of the co-pilots in the holding pattern asked us to monitor a discreet frequency, on which he asked all the aircraft their position and speed in the hold, then asked if they could increase or decrease their speeds slightly. Eventually, he got all the aircraft turning over the VOR, to start a new outbound leg, at the same time!
We heard the controller shout, "Hey! Where are all my aeroplanes? I've just got one great big blob!"
Last fall, while I was in the circuit to land at Toronto Buttonville (CYKZ) airport, I was listening to the tower controller who was giving a running commentary and warning to pilots on final to watch for Canada geese that were flying back and forth over the threshold of the active runway, creating a very nasty bird strike hazard. After the controller had made the warning for the fourth time in a very short period of time, she again repeated it to me as I was short final -- in a very frustrated tone. I decided to try and lighten the frustration to her day.
Cessna Amphibian 1234:
"Can't you just give those geese a transponder code?"
Witnessed by me as an FAA controller at Waterloo (Iowa) in the mid-'80s. The G.A. ramp is next to the terminal ramp, so these two aircraft were parked in close proximity to each other. Here is how the exchange went:
"Waterloo ground: Tomahawk 86 Bravo, ready to taxi."
"Tomahawk 86 Bravo: Roger, taxi to runway 30."
"TWA 687, ready to taxi."
"TWA 687, taxi to runway 30."
[The controller has the Tomahawk follow the DC-9.]
"Tomahawk 86 Bravo, follow the DC-9 off your right; taxi to runway 30."
"Tomahawk 86 Bravo. Roger."
The DC-9 just sat there and sat there. Finally, the DC-9 started his taxi and apologized to the Tomahawk pilot. It went like this:
"Sorry about the delay there, Tomahawk; this our first time in here."
"That's O.K. I'm a student pilot, too."
Many years ago, I had to make a night flight from Cable Airport to Phoenix in a Cessna 150. The weather was clear, and I filed a VFR flight plan for N51139 and departed at 10:30pm. While climbing out over Ontario VOR (now PDZ), I contacted Ontario Approach (now SoCal) for flight following, got a squawk, and was advised of radar contact, then settled in for the long flight. The frequency was quiet at that late hour, and I guessed the controller was bored. He must have looked up our flight plan, because the next thing I heard was:
"Cessna 51139, are you an orange and white Cessna?"
Back in the mid-'80s, Piedmont Airlines began flying out of Worcester airport (ORH) in Massachusetts to Baltimore/Washington International airport (BWI). A flight crew requested their IFR clearance, and I dutifully rattled it off to them in typical New England air traffic control fashion. As I concluded, the response I received in a thick Southern drawl was priceless:
"Woostasure clearance do yuh hear how fayust I'muh tawkin'? Well, that's how fayust I listen. You wanna run that by me one moe tawm ?"
A slight departure from our usual hijinks this week:
The fallen Betty Ford was returning to Grand Rapids for the last time. Her remains were abord a beautiful United States Presidential airplane painted blue and white. The airport was closed to all other traffic for 30 minutes. Airliners waited patientally on the ground and some in a hold over the GRR VOR. As Ms. Ford's plane, SAM 324, landed, they were cleared to taxi all the way to the end, in front of a thousand people. The tower frequency was absolutely silent.
One unknown airline pilot, in a low, respectful voice, said, "Rest in peace, Mrs. Ford."
After a short pause and in a slow, measured response, the Presidential plane's pilot identified himself:
My sister-in-law and I were working together across the production bench a few years back as the local ATC scanner played in the background. The controller cleared an aircraft to take off, ending the transmission with, "Wind calm."
Instead, my sister-in-law heard, "... when calm."
She was quite alarmed that ATC would clear a pilot to take off but gave them time to calm down before pushing the throttle forward.
We were approaching ORD from the east years ago in a B-727, which was famous for being able to descend very steeply, as long as it was not speed-restricted. ORD approach was changing from an east landing configuration to west, meaning that the airplanes over Lake Michigan were all going to end up high because of the change in plans.
ORD Controller(to a 727 ahead of us):
"If I give you STORY intersection at 11,000 feet, can you make it down from there?"
"Yes, but we'll have to start down right now."
"O.K., start down now; cross STORY at 11,000. Oh, and I need you to do that at 250 knots."
"Hey, we can't come down and slow down at the same time."
Controller(unsure who was giving him a hard time, since the 727 pilot hadn't used his callsign):
"Who said that?"
"Uh, I think it was Newton."
"I guess I deserved that. O.K., which aircraft is anticipating an energy management problem?"
Several of us jumped in and said, "We are!" all at the same time.
As a former physics major, this one really cracked me up. One usually thinks of a comeback line like that on the drive home, instead of instantly as this fellow did.
I think it was one of my sons on his solo cross-country from Whiteman, CA (WHP). Bakersfield was one of his stops. He had tuned into Bakersfield BFL ground control. Before he called, he heard another pilot call ground control:
"Bakersfield ground, Cessna 1234 ready for taxi to Los Angeles."
"Cessna 1234, that is going to be a very long taxi trip."
I was inbound to Homestead AFB a long time ago in a Navy P-3 . As we were vectored over the Bahamas and into the Miami area, I proceeded to give my best "PA," pointing out the sights to the crew. As I wound down, we heard this from Miami approach:
"That's very interesting, Navy Quartet 35. Now that your stuck mic is fixed, contact Homestead Approach on 119.2!"
An embarassing silence followed, and the student was given radio duty!
I was a controller at Albany Georgia tower back in the '70s, and a Cherokee was on downwind, with the instructor introducing his student to radio procedures. Fortunately for me, their intercom locked on for a bit and I got all the dialog between the student and the instructor. It went like this:
"Say 'Albany tower.'"
"Ah Al-Albany tower?"
"'This is Cherokee 76 Whiskey.'"
"This is is Ch-Cherokee ?"
"Seven 76 Whiskey?"
"'We are on left downwind for runway 22, touch and go.'"
"We are on ?"
"... 'Left downwind for 22.'"
"Left down-downwind "
"... 'Downwind for 22, touch and go.'"
There used to be a controller at my home base of Shoreham, SE UK who had the kind of plummy voice that you might expect of a Victorian actor. One day there were two non-radio Cubs in the busy circuit. After giving my take-off clearance, he asked, "Now, where are my pride of cubs?"
I overheard the following tower transmission after a King Air made a particularly short landing at Metro Airport near Denver. The King Air landed in less than a thousand feet and cleared the runway much earlier than the tower anticipated.
Controller(obviously stunned and in good humor):
"King Air, would you mind telling the tower exactly what was wrong with the other 9,000 feet of our runway?"
ATIS was being implemented in the late 1960s, and many pilots were not yet aware of it. While making practice instrument approaches at San Jose International Airport in California, I overheard the following exchange:
"San Jose Tower, Cessna 1234. Ten south, landing San Jose."
"Cessna 1234, do you have information Hotel?"
"Cessna 1234, do you have information Hotel?"
"Ahhh, no thanks. We're staying with friends."
Years ago, I flew out of Santa Monica (SMO). Primary students quickly learned the controllers were sticklers, especially regarding radio communication. And that's understandable given the high volume of traffic. Early on a Saturday morning, I was holding short, awaiting clearance and monitoring the tower frequency. A student (I checked later) from an area airport was in the pattern.
"Piper One Two Uniform, cleared to land."
"Cleared to land, One Two Unicorn."
[about a minute later]
"One Two Uniform, contact Ground on 121.9."
"Ah okay, 121.9. And, ah, we're One Two UNICORN."
"That's fine, One Two UNICORN. You just go ahead now and contact Ground on 121.9 right away."
I'm a First Officer for TMC Airlines, a small freight airline operating Lockheed Electras based at Willow Run Airport in Detroit, Michigan. We use the call sign Willow Run Three Forty-Six, and we'd just picked up a load of freight at Muskegon, Michigan and were en route to Oakland, California. The time was about 07007. As we reached our final cruising altitude of FL220 at the west side of Lake Michigan, we got this message from Chicago Center:
"Willow Run Three Forty-Six, descend and maintain 6,000."
After exchanging looks of amazement with my captain, I replied:
"Chicago, ah if you really need us at 6,000 we'll start down. But it's way early for our descent into Oakland, California."
On a recent flight, a controller instructed myself and another pilot of each other's position and had us make the required adjustments. The controller was quite jovial and introduced himself as "Bruiser," warning us that he didn't want to see a repeat of the incident that earned him his nickname.
A few moments later, the other pilot came on the radio asked Bruiser how he got his nickname. The controller chuckled and told us that he and another controller had both been looking down while walking toward each other in the hall once and had bumped heads. Bruiser received six stitches, and the other controller received four.
I couldn't help myself and asked how these controllers managed to keep airplanes apart. A second later, a Comair flight checked in at FL290, adding that he too was "a little nervous now."
Bruiser at the center didn't miss a beat. He replied, "Don't worry, fellas. I'm using my good eye today."
Several years ago, I was flying my father-in-law back to Portland, Maine. He had been in Connecticut preforming a wedding. We got an early start, and at about 7 a.m., we were overflying the Worster, MA Class Delta.
After making contact with the tower, I commented that it was very quiet on their frequency.
The controller responded that everybody must be asleep or in church.
My father-in-law, the ever-alert minister, pressed the button that was both intercom and transmit PTT and said, "Maybe they are in church and asleep!"
One sunshiny day a couple of years ago, my friend Bill in his Mooney (C-FIHH) and I in my Comanche (C-FLHV) were flying the 142 miles from Great Falls, Montana to Lethbridge, Alberta. We'd taken off one right behind the other, so not surprisingly arrived more or less simultaneously. Bill called into the FSS advisory frequency first with his position and intentions, followed by me. FSS obviously didn't realize we were together:
"Roger, Lima Hotel Victor. Traffic: A Mooney also arriving from the southeast, more or less your position. Suggest you do a 360 to the right for separation."
"Comanche LHV into the right 360. Actually, we've been doing 360s all the way from Great Falls, me trying to stay behind him."
"Mooney India Hotel Hotel, is he a friend of yours?"
At some now-forgotten backwoods class G airport, I was in the run-up area trying to unfoul a plug by leaning the crap out of my worn-out Lycoming 180hp engine, and, despite my anxiety over an impending $25K overhaul, I managed to catch the following on CTAF:
As Denny Cunningham can tell you, Chicago area controllers have a rep for irreverent humor on the air. This latest installment of the Top Twenty Actual Transmissions Heard in the O'Hare Tracon comes courtesy of IntentionallyLeftBlank, the newsletter of O'Hare's National Air Traffic Controllers Association:
"American Two Twenty: eneey, meeny, miney, mo, how do you hear my radio?"
Courtesy of the Top Twenty Actual Transmissions Heard in the O'Hare Tracon, from IntentionallyLeftBlank, the newsletter of O'Hare's National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
Years ago, my co-pilot and I were flying a Beech 90 at FL220 and encountered moderate icing. ATC granted our request for FL240, where we found lighter ice, but we decided to try FL200 in an attempt to exit the icing. The icing was again moderate at FL200. FL180 was not available due to the altimeter setting, and we did not have quick-donning oxygen masks to go above FL250, so we decided that the light icing at FL240 was our best option. My co-pilot prepared to radio ATC:
"The controller is going to be mad at you if you ask him to go back to where we were."
"No, he won't be mad at me."
[Co-pilot calls ATC.]
"Tower, the captain wants to go back to 240."
The recent story about the squawk code that included an "8" reminded me of a recent VFR clearance I got from my home base ground controller. I called for flight following with SoCal while on Ground, and the following conversation took place:
"Cessna 1234: After takeoff, turn right to 120; climb and maintain 3,000; squawk 4259; contact departure on 124.65."
"Right to 120; climb and maintain 3,000; squawk 4259 but my digits only go to 7."
"Ah, squawk 4257. Can't read my own writing."
"O.K., 4257 and 124.65. But my radio volume control goes to 11!"
I was on my way to a fly-in at KMPV last Saturday, VFR on flight following with Boston Center. It was quite busy. Over 60 planes from all over New England were converging (some IFR, some VFR) when I heard one pilot check on by asking whether that was the correct frequency and, "Do you control this airspace?"
Without hesitation, the very helpful, friendly, and very busy controller replied, "In your location, I own from the surface up to God."
I wonder how high that goes. Is that Class G airspace?
This one may not have come over the radio, but it's a priceless cockpit exchange:
I was flying with a friend and his 7-year-old nephew a few weeks ago. After take-off, I was talking to departure control and was given numerous vectors and altitudes in the busy DFW airspace. After a few minutes, the youngster piped in with, "Would you please stop talking on your phone and pay attention to your flying?"
I was flying right seat, giving instruction in a Cessna 210 VFR over New York asking for advisories. The left-seat pilot owned the aircraft and was proficient. After bouncing around with several different controllers, we found one that would talk to us:
The left-seat pilot pushed 1-2-3 on the transponder and then stopped and looked at me.
"Did she say '1-2-3-8'?"
"Yes ... ."
Pilot (to NY Control) :
"Did you say '1-2-3-8'?"
"Yes. Squawk 1238."
(I was laughing.)
"You can't squawk 1238?"
Pilot (definitively) :
"That's right. I can't."
Ten long seconds went by.
"Try squawking XXXX. [It was a good number this time.]"
123.8 is a common Philadelphia approach frequency that New York often hands people off to. Of course, there is no 8 on a transponder.
With Super Bowl XLIV about to kick off as we prepare this week's AVweb stories, we can't resist the temptation to delve into our mailbag and serve up a "Short Final" that's been holding for over a year:
It was a Friday afternoon in November when we were departing OSU airport in the company King Air for our home base in Grand Rapids. The huge college rivalry between OSU and U of M was to be played tomorrow. Since the OSU fans can be quite literally fanatical about their team, my co-pilot and I were pretty quiet all day about our allegiance to the Michigan football squad.
As we were taxiing out to the busy runway, we changed over to tower, and the pattern was full of OSU students and their instructors. The frequency was busy. It was my leg, so the co-pilot was on the radio. My voice had not been heard yet.
After my copilot responded to our takeoff clearance, I couldn't help myself and keyed the mike, saying in a deep and serious voice, "Go Blue!"
We enjoyed a takeoff roll in complete radio silence. All communications stopped dead for about ten seconds!
The shocked silence was broken with the words "Who said that?!"
I knew we had gotten away with it when we were handed off to Columbus departure and didn't have to enter a hold! That ten seconds of silence was almost as good as the beating we gave them in the next day's game!
A few years ago, I was routinely flying my Bonanza from Houston Hobby to Austin. The trip was normally very predictable, including the knowledge that radio traffic, when handed over to Austin Approach, was extremely busy and communications needed to be very efficient. On one trip, the Approach controller changed those rules and added some levity.
"Bonanza 56, turn right, heading 350. I hate to tell you this, but you're number 9 for landing, and I have to send you up to Georgetown."
"No problem; those Boeings have a lot more passengers than I do."
"56W, what speed can you give me to the outer marker?"
"I can give you 150 knots."
"Great. If you can do that, I'll give you a kiss. Turn left, heading 280, and join the localizer 17L."
"Left to 280, join the localizer 17L, and I'll pass on the kiss."
"SW 123 checking in on the localizer 17R. And we'll pass on the kiss, too."
[Other aircraft check in and add to the laughter.]
"Hey, I'm getting my feelings hurt here! SW 123, ask one of your flight attendants if they would like the kiss."
[After a few moments ... .]
"Approach, SW 123. One of our flight attendants will meet you on the ground for the kiss. His name is Kevin."
This is a nice one from a few years back. I know the captain of the aircraft, so I'm sure it's authentic. A South African Airways B747 just off LHR had a problem and said they were returning and would need to dump fuel for landing.
"You are approaching Windsor Castle, and the Queen is in residence. Hold the dump until you have passed Windsor."
"Phone the Queen and ask if she would like the fuel or the aircraft."
My VIP passenger showed up late for a two-hour flight. At 4,000 feet, we were halfway to the
destination when he announced his bowels needed immediate attention and landing right
now was not an option.
"Chicago Center, Five Eight Six Five Papa requests an immediate landing at Kankakee for a
10-minute stop, then continue with no change in flight plan."
"What's the reason for the request, sir?"
"From the expression on his face, I'd say my passenger has his sphincter at max pucker. And
the successful outcome of the effort is seriously in doubt."
ATC (after a long pause) :
"Six Five Papa, call me when airborne. And good luck to all!"
I'm a controller at Terre Haute, Indiana, and I was working data while my female supervisor got her currency on arrival radar. She was wondering about the on-course heading of an overflight. The conversation went something like this:
"Seven Six One Zulu Bravo, say your heading to 22G."
While in the pattern at Islip, New York, during a quiet time, we'd performed about 20 touch-and-goes, each time receiving a bland "cleared for touch-and-go" from the tower. Eventually, a Southwest Boeing 737 called the tower inbound:
My instructor and I were flying around today (July 8, 2009) and had an interesting exchange with ATC. I don't know if you'll include it in the "Short Final," but we got a chuckle out of it.
We were doing maneuvers under the hood in a BE-76 Duchess. My instructor had failed my left engine, and I was just getting ready to restart when Whiteman Approach came on and told a Columbia that they had traffic to their 10 o'clock. (That traffic was us.)
ATC then came on and told us, "Mule Flight 106, traffic is 1 o'clock, a Columbia a couple miles out." (I can't remember how many for sure.)
My instructor replied that we were looking for traffic and then decided that we should make a turn to the west. On the radio, he told Whiteman approach of our impending turn.
Whiteman came back, advising, "Mule Flight 106, keep an eye out for that traffic. They are moving about double your rate of speed." (Vyse is 85 kts on a Duchess.)
My instructor came back and said, "We're a little slow because we're running on one engine right now."
Whiteman came back with, "We thought something was going on. We just saw a car on highway 50 going faster than you are."
Many years ago, I had just landed at Cairns in Far North Queensland, when an incoming DC-9 called over the radio:
"Cairns Tower, TN 123. Request a wheelchair to meet the flight on arrival. It's the Captain's last landing."
Tower responded appropriately. I thought this was too good to miss, so I stayed on the air. Eventually the DC-9 appeared, touched down, and bounced spectacularly before finally getting under control and rolling through.
DC-9(a different voice this time):
"Tower, can you make that 98 wheelchairs?"
At the Charlottetown (CYYG) airport last summer, while doing my run-up in my 172, an air Canada flight had just finished copping their clearance when they saw an osprey fly by with a large flounder in its talons. They contacted the tower:
"Charlottetown Tower, Air Canada 123."
"There's an osprey that just flew overhead carrying a fish!"
Charlottetown Tower:(without missing a beat):
"Have him contact the tower."
This kind of made my day in this very friendly maritime town.
A few years back, when I only had my VFR ticket with only a few night flights under my belt, I was departing Austin, Texas for Lufkin on a perfectly clear, still night. When getting clearance, I asked the controller for flight following. She told me to talk to departure. It turned out that the same lady was working clearance delivery, ground, and departure I was her only customer for all three.
"Departure: [I repeated departure instructions.] And could I get that flight following?"
"Cessna Zero Three Quebec, readback correct. But darlin' there's nobody out there except for you, me, and the owls."
It happened a couple of years ago in France, at La Ferté-Allais (LFFQ) near Paris, a quite busy GA airport. A few planes were lined up for take-off behind a plane with a female student pilot and her instructor performing an apparently very long checklist. It had already taken 5 to 10 minutes, and the line was extending. (All dialogs below happened, of course, in French.)
"F-ABCD, are you ready for departure?"
"Not yet, Fox Charlie Delta."
[Several minutes passed.]
Unidentified Voice(presumably an impatient pilot in the line):
"Nails should be dry by now ... ."
"Who said that?"
[Dead silence, but after another couple of minutes, Fox Charlie Delta finally called "Ready for departure."]
We were flying from Chatham, Massachusetts to Nantucket with flight following from Cape approach. The weather was marginal VFR with heavy haze and reasonably poor visibility when, out of the mist, we heard this on the air:
"Cessna Four Five Six, are you aware that you are heading toward a restricted area?"
"No, I wasn't aware of a restricted area. What's in there?"
"It's some type of microwave installation."
"Yup, I see a tower ahead."
"That's the tower I want you to miss. If you fly near that tower, it could ruin all your equipment, and you'll never have any children."
"Roger that. Turning now ... ."
Although he never mentioned whether he was turning toward or away ... .
I was with an instrument student in a P210 preparing to depart IFR from Leesburg, Virginia. The remote radio frequency wasn't operating, so instead we set up the frequency for the Ground Control Outlet and clicked the microphone to activate the autodial telephone patch to Dulles Approach for our clearance.
Dulles Approach (on radio via Ground Control Outlet):
"You have reached the Dulles air traffic control approach facility. No one is availahle at this time to answer your call. Please leave your name and number, and someone will call back as soon as possible."
Going from Virginia to Houston, Texas, I was diverting north of Memphis, Tennessee to get around a big storm front which was moving across the country. I planned a fuel stop at Jackson, Tennessee (MKL) and was on the back side of the front with just light rain ahead of me. As always, I tried to call with a DTN screen in front of me for the big picture. This occurred on the phone during a weather briefing with FSS:
"N12345, IFR flight plan: MKL, PBF, direct HOU. (West, then southwest.)"
"O.K. Lots of weather. Big storms ahead of you."
"Well, I'm looking at the DTN screen, and the radar shows those storms to be behind me with just light rain and then improving weather."
While I was on short final into KFHU (Fort Huachuca, Sierra Vista Arizona):
"Shadow-1 at runway 26, ready to take off."
"Shadow-1, hold short for landing traffic."
I then looked over at the holding aircraft and noticed that it was a Military UAV, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. This being the first one I'd ever seen, I struggled between landing my plane and looking at the UAV. Landing the plane finally caught my attention.
After landing, while on rollout, I overheard:
"Tower, was that an unmanned airplane I just passed?"
"NXXXXX: Yes, it was."
"There is actually a man sitting somewhere ... ."
On Friday, October 10, Qantas's first Airbus A380 visited Auckland, marking the first visit of the type to New Zealand. It did a press junket promotional flight across the city and environs, filmed by a news helicopter, ZK-HST. This was heard on Auckland control 124.3:
"Auckland Control, Hotel Sierra Tango. We've filmed the takeoff, and we'd like to track to the city to film the flyover."
"Hotel Sierra Tango, do you have the A380 visual?"
Flying into New Orleans Lakefront, and approach had switched us over to tower. One controller worked both ground and tower frequencies. There was minimal radio chatter with other aircraft but what was there was worth hearing:
"Cessna XXX, for future reference, the one with the yellow line down the center is a taxiway, and the one with the white line is a runway."
Overheard on a scanner recently at St. John's International Airport (CYYT):
An inbound commercial flight was getting the bad news from the tower that conditions for the active runway were 200 feet and 1/4 mile in heavy fog. Controller and aircraft discussed alternatives for a few minutes before the pilot, knowing his passengers were going to be disappointed by a diversion, asked the tower wistfully:
"Any chance it'll change soon?"
Tower (after a brief pause):
"Yeah, maybe August."
"I don't think we've got that much reserve fuel."
I am involved in a voluntary home defense pilot group in the northern part of Sweden. We only fly Cessnas and Pipers on a regular basis, and our pilots are mainly bush pilots, not accustomed to using the radio often. During a training weekend at a controlled airport, we had a landing session, with five or six aircraft in the circuit, and the guy in the tower has a busy time keeping us all sorted out. We then heard the following exchange over the radio:
"Sierra Echo XXX, state your position."
"Aeum ... I'm behind the one in front of me!"
Listening to Oshkosh Tower transmissions on LiveATC.net last week, I overheard a controller tell an approaching seaplane:
"Amphib landing runway 36, the runway is dry; check for wheels down."
Don Aldridge via e-mail
Several "Short Final" stopped by the AVweb and press trailer during AirVenture to share their favorite radio funnies with us but, alas, our memories can be a little fuzzy sometimes, so if you're one of those folks, please drop us a note and remind us what made us laugh at the show!
I was departing Terre Haute, Indiana. The ATIS said clear below 12,000, but I could see a scattered layer of clouds to the south with tops around 4,500 feet. After tower switched me to departure, there was this exchange:
This is an exchange that happened ... on a trip from Las Vegas (Henderson) to Oklahoma City (Sundance Air Park). We were level at 15,000 and just handed off from Las Vegas TRACON to LA Center. We had been at 15,000 for a few minutes and were definitely hungry to get to our final altitude of FL270. The busy airspace due to a NASCAR race complicated matters for everyone.
Starship XXXX (me):
"LA Center, good afternoon, Starship XXXX level at one five thousand, direct cowboy, looking for higher."
"Starship XXXX, LA Center. Maintain one five thousand MD-80 traffic in your six o'clock position in a very slow climb. I need to keep you at one five thousand until clear of traffic."
"LA Center, Starship XXXX, maintain one five thousand.
"LA Center, Starship XXXX, no contact with traffic."
While on a trip in a Grumman Cheetah from Marathon, Florida Keys to Exuma in the Bahamas, I ran into a large area of clouds hanging over Andros Island. They'd been classified as benign when I'd received my weather briefing about an hour and a half earlier. I penetrated with a warning from Miami Center:
"Grumman XXXXX, I show a large area of weather ahead of you. How would you like to proceed?"
"My Stormscope shows it's not active. I'll continue on course."
[a few minutes later]
"Grumman XXXXX, say flight conditions."
"It's a little bumpy, but other than that it's fine."
[a few minutes later, after it suddenly turned active]
"Miami Center, Grumman XXXXX, experiencing ... severe ... turbulence. Request ... lower."
[I went up and down at about 2000 feet per minute. The Stormscope lit up all around us. We were tossed on our side.]
"Grumman XXXXX, unable lower at this time. I'll have to call Nassau to get lower."
I righted the airplane. Everything flew around the cockpit. I saw a hole and aimed for it.
[a few minutes later]
"Miami Center, Grumman XXXXX, we're out of the weather now. Sorry about the deviation, but I could not hold altitude or course."
"Not a problem, I understand."
A passing airliner overheard this ...
"Miami, Airliner XXXX, that guy that penetrated the weather over Andros what kind of airplane did he say he was flying?"
"Like a big Grumman?"
"No, like a little Grumman Cheetah.
"A Cheetah? Wow, he's got a lot of balls."
Airliner XXXX, I'm sorry, sir, you broke up. Say again?
"I said, he's got a lot of balls."
"Airliner XXXX, I'm sorry, sir, you are coming in broken up again. I believe you said (ahem) that he was a very brave man?"
On a Qantas flight from Adelaide to Perth last week, our lovely senior air steward announced the following after the doors closed:
Over the Speaker:
"Ladies and gentleman, please turn off all electronic devices such as laptops, mobile phones, washing machines and hairdryers. However, if they have a flight mode, please switch now."
It made me smile; must be hard to repeat the same thing every flight.
Today, the weather in Southern Wisconsin was dicey. Severe thunderstorms with hail, high winds, and tornados on the ground 20 miles north of the Madison, Wisconsin Dane County Regional airport.
A female voice in a Learjet 45 comes over to Madison approach from Chicago Center and says:
"Madison approach, Lear 12345 is with you out of 10,000 planning on landing Madison to pick up fuel. We've been chased all over the place with this weather."
After vectoring her to the 18 ILS, the controller says:
"Airport 11 o'clock, 10 miles; do you have it?"
"Yes, we have the runway in sight."
"Then I suggest that you take over visually and 'save yourself.' Tower now on 119.3."
With a halting voice she replies:
"I've never heard it put quite that way before. That's pretty blunt. Going over to the tower now."
I was en route to a New England airport famous for its fog. The ATIS reported below minimums but gradual ix, improving. Approach said to expect the ILS, and I could hear one aircraft ahead, a local airliner. Approach cleared me for the approach and sent the other aircraft to tower.
"Did the aircraft ahead get in?"
"Well, he didn't fly the missed. Contact tower."
"Tower, at what altitude did the previous plane break out?"
"I didn't ask."
Me(after landing a little proudly):
"Tower, be advised that we broke out just above minimums."
We were a flight of three consisting of two Cessna 180s and one Maule headed into the Lake Parker holding pattern [for Sun 'n Fun 2008]. We had dropped to extended trail and began circling the lake following a Glastar, and we had two twins holding above us as well. After about 20 minutes of circling and waiting for the field to re-open after the airshow, we were joined in the hold by a new Cirrus pilot.
"Tailwheels, nice job keeping the seperation. Keep the pattern a little closer to the shoreline on the west side of the lake. The field should open in the next 10 to 15 minutes. Cirrus, enter the hold behind the red-and-black high wing."
"Control, we have a rental car waiting for us, and if we don't get down there in time they may give it away. Could we get priority consideration as soon as the field opens?"
"Control, we have cold beer waiting for us in the campground, and if we don't get down there in time, it may get warm. Could we get priority consideration as soon as the field opens?"
"All aircraft continue in the hold for now. We will advise when the field re-opens and release the aircraft as they arrived."
Heard on the scanner over Adelaide, South Australia:
Airliner(I think it was a Qantas, but I didn't hear the start of the transmission):
"We won't need to divert into Adelaide now. The passenger is feeling much better now that he has been moved to business class."
"Amazing what recuperative powers business class has."
We've heard different variations on this tale through the years, but here's one that can't be beat, if only for sheer enthusiasm:
I tried to pass on this little tale many years ago without success, and since I never saw a response, I will try one more time, just for my old Yankee mate, Ken Sunderland:
An Aussie grazier flew his antique Auster aircraft to Mascot airport, Sydney, some time back to enact some business at the offices of business acquaintances. Not being familiar with controlled airspace procedures (although making it safely to the airport), he required and requested guidance to the GA parking area. Much later, after the completion of his business and returning to the airport, he eventually taxied out to the major runway 16, again guided by ATC to take his place in the queue for take-off clearance.
When finally cleared to line up and subsequently cleared for take-off, his instructions were to call "123 airborne" (the departure frequency). Applying maximum power and concentrating on keeping his aircraft on the centerline on the roll, the tail rose, and soon after that, the aircraft became airborne whereupon the pilot pressed his transmit button and called:
I'm a CFI who was flying into Vero Beach, Fla., and it's widely known that one of the tower controllers often flies to work. The winds were favoring the single runway, so the parallel runways were not in use, and the tower was busier than usual. While flying the pattern with a student, I heard the following:
"Vero Beach Tower, Cessna XXXX inbound for landing, full stop."
Tower (with what sounded like a straight face, though it couldn't have been):
"Cessna XXXX, remain clear class Delta, expect one hour delay."
[We weren't that busy, so I was shocked.]
Today's "Short Final" breaks with tradition a bit by not being heard over the radio but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to share this tale:
"I was coming back from Tampa in the early evening heading for Craig in my 182. Over Gainesville I came around a large cloud and came face to face with a UFO.
"Black, octagon-shaped with spikes, clearly not of terrestrial origin. I turned toward it. Heart racing, sweating like a pig, I could barely hold her steady. I don't believe in UFOss but there it was. About a mile out, it turns, and I can see the word Goodyear on it's side.
"What I saw in the fading light was the Blimp on end.
Returning to Princeton, New Jersey in a Seminole, I was proudly clipping along at 140 knots and can only assume that my deep voice and professional-sounding tone led to us appearing to be more than we were:
"New York approach, Seminole Two Two Eight, 5000."
"Seminole Two Two Eight, Morristown altimeter 30.08. Proceed direct Solberg, maintain 5000. Were you given any speed restrictions? If so, you can resume normal speed."
"Direct Solberg, 5000, Two Two Eight. And we're a Seminole. This is normal speed."
With my CFII Jim in the right seat, we were on vectors to Allentown Airport for practice instrument approaches. En route, we heard the approach controller making the following call to another pilot in the area.
Cessna One Three Four, two o'clock, same altitude, have you spotted it?
I do believe I tried to pass on this little edict many years ago without success, and since I never saw a response, I will try one more time, just for my old Yankee mate, Ken Sunderland:
An Aussie grazier flew his antique Auster aircraft to Mascot Airport, Sydney, some time back to enact some business at the offices of business acquaintances. Not being familiar with controlled airspace procedures, although making it safely to the airport, he required and requested guidance to the GA parking area.
Much later, after the completion of his business and returning to the airport, he eventually taxied out to the major runway 16, again guided by ATC to take his place in the queue for take-off clearance. When finally cleared to line up and subsequently cleared for take-off, his instructions were to call "123 airborne" (the departure frequency).
Applying maximum power and concentrating on keeping his aircraft on the centreline on the roll, the tail rose, and soon after the aircraft became airborne, whereupon the pilot pressed his transmit button and called ... "1-2-3 airborne"!
The American League Championship series between Cleveland and Boston began on a Friday night. Early the next morning, after an IFR handoff to Boston Center, the pilot of a Boston-bound aircraft posed the all-important question:
Sox win last night?
That's too bad.
You're not going to make us hold now, are you?
Probably not but just remember, I'm not paying for the gas!
Flying our Bonanza from Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Morristown, New Jersey at 6,000 feet with a big thunderstorm to the west, we were handed off to New York approach:Me:
Approach, Bonanza Eight Zero Lima level 6,000, heading 270.
Bonanza Eight Zero Lima, descend and maintain 5,000.
Okay to stay at 6,000 for a better view of the weather ahead?
Whaddever, sure, stay at 6,000.
Later, we were close to some buildups when approach turned us right to 280 degrees.Me:
Eighty Lima, would really rather turn left about 10 degrees to stay out of the buildups ahead.
Okay, do whatever vou want to do. Just let me know when you're done.
While flying through Joshua Approach airspace in Southern California:Joshua Approach:
"Bonanza Five Victor X-Ray, be advised you have traffic at your 12 o'clock 10 miles, an F-15."
"Roger, we'll be looking, no contact."
"Bonanza Five Victor X-Ray, traffic should be no factor but should be fun to watch."
"Not in this wild machine."
"That's OK, I fly a Skyhawk, too."
Overheard near Greensboro, N.C.:Greensboro Approach:
"Cessna One Two Three, fly heading one four zero, left base runway five, keep your speed up, turn it tight and I'll get you in front of the RJ."
"Um, turn ... base ... five ... keep the speed up."
"Pretend you're an F-15."
"You're not buying it."
Overheard by a passenger from Chicago to London, England:Minneapolis Center:
"United Nine Two Eight Heavy, direct Badger Whoa, we're not going to Badger are we Nine Two Eight fly heading 340."
"Um, we're going to London."
"Ah, United Nine Two Eight Heavy, fly 010, vectors to London."
Center(15 seconds later):
"Of course that's not really vectors for London, it's vectors for um, PECOK."
Dallas/Fort Worth Clearance Delivery: Nine Eight Two Sierra Yankee stand by to copy clearance.
N982SY: Nine Eight Two Sierra Yankee ready to copy.
Clearance Delivery: Nine Eight Two Sierra Yankee is cleared direct Rockport, after departure fly runway heading at or below 2,000 expect 10,000 in 10 minutes, contact Dallas Forth Worth Departure 125.2, squawk 2351.
N9800Y: Nine Eight Two Sierra Yankee fly runway -- hey, if you guys dont hold still and be quiet, your mother and I will be flying to the Bahamas without you for spring break next week and youll be in Dallas with the babysitter. Am I clear?
Clearance Delivery: Oh no. Can I please go too, daddy?
N9880Y: Sure, come on. Guess I forgot to turn loose of the transmit button. Sorry.
I was flying a Cirrus SR22, introducing the plane to a CFI interested in seeing it in action. We were still about 20 miles out, but the controller was working us into the sequence with other planes, mostly trainers, setting up for practice approaches:
Seattle Approach: Cirrus Seven Charlie Delta, say airspeed.
Cirrus: Seven Charlie Delta is indicating 165.
Approach: Wow! Uh, okay. Cirrus Seven Charlie Delta, slow to 140 or less.
The CFI was rolling with joy, saying, "Dude, you got a 'Wow!'"
There is an approach into San Francisco (KSFO) known as the Quiet Bridge Visual. During this approach, commercial operators fly to the bridge and match up with another aircraft for the parallel runway.
NorCal Approach: United Four Five Three, report traffic 10 oclock one mile, a Skywest Brasilia in sight, and slow to one seven zero.
United 453: Traffic, bridge, airport, parking lot, and my car in sight.
NorCal: United Four Five Three, roger, cleared for the visual two eight right, enjoy your days off, contact tower.
Overheard between a Cessna 310 driver and Chicago Center.
Chicago Center: Cessna One Two Three Five Bravo, Ill bring you in a little high so I dont lose radar contact while vectoring you to the ILS. Do you think youll have any problem losing the necessary altitude to make the approach?
Cessna 1235B: No problem Center, this baby comes down like a Bonanza full of doctors!
After 10 years of flying a Twin Comanche, I upgraded to a Beech Baron. With the Beechcraft Pilot Proficiency Program in Lakeland, Fla. under my belt, I advanced the throttles on my first PIC flight into Orlando airspace.
Me: Orlando Approach, Baron Eight Two Four just off Lakeland, five miles to the east, out of 1,200 for 3,500. Would like to coordinate a Class B entry en route to New Smyrna Beach, VFR.
Approach [in a classic southern drawl]: Baron Eight Two Four, this is Tampa Approach, and if you dont call us Orlando, we won't call you a Piper. Squawk two seven three zero and ident.
I heard this somewhere out East while in the clag and trying to find an approach plate:
Piper: Center, Lance Six Two Eight One November, with you at 7,000 feet.
Center (sounding tired): Lance, Six Two Eight One November, roger. But two things: first you don't need to say "feet" because that's understood. And more importantly, you aren't "with me." I know everybody in this radar room, and you aren't here.
Cessna: Gainesville tower, Cessna Three Four Five, seven west with Tango.
Tower: Cessna One Two Three Four Five, cleared to land Runway six.
Cessna: We'd prefer Runway one zero, we have some passengers to drop off at the terminal.
Tower: Cessna Three Four Five, you can't do that, you have to use the general aviation FBO.
Cessna: We called ahead and they said we could drop them off as long as we stayed clear of the gate.
Tower: I don't know who told you that, but I'll ask the airport manager.
Tower (a short time later): Cessna Three Four Five. I'm sorry, but you can't taxi to the terminal. However, if you'd like I can clear you for a low approach, and your passengers can jump out as you fly by.
En route from San Antonio to Kerville, Texas, I let my 19-year-old private-pilot-rated daughter run the radios:
Piper Six Seven Romeo: Center, Piper Six Seven Romeo.
Center: Piper Six Seven Romeo, go ahead.
Piper Six Seven Romeo: Request flight following.
Center: Piper Six Seven Romeo, state your location, altitude, and destination.
Piper Six Seven Romeo: [After a long pause] Uh, San Antonio.
Center: [After pause] Piper Six Seven Romeo, when you figure out where you are and where you want to go, give us a call back.
Short Final January 28, 2007 The following exchange took place enroute to opening day at Sun 'n' Fun last April:
Bonanza: Jacksonville Center, Bonanza Two Zero Yankee. 11,000.
Center: Bonanza Two Zero Yankee, Roger, Jacksonville altimeter 30.12.
Bonanza: Are you working a lot of traffic to Lakeland this afternoon?
Center: I'll tell you what -- if you fell out of your airplane right now, you'd never hit the ground.
Short Final January 21, 2007 Heard on Denver approach frequency
Approach: Great Lakes One Twenty Three, traffic six o'clock, two miles, 1000 feet above you, a 737.
Great Lakes: Approach, Great Lakes One Twentv-Three, if I told you I could see him, I'd be lyin'.
Approach: If you told me you could see him, you'd be my mother, 'cause you'd have eves in the back of your head.
Short Final January 14, 2007 Overheard recently at BWI:
Baltimore Tower: Cirrus 123, your remarks section says you're an Indy fan.
Cirrus 123: Well, no not really, I'm originally from Baltimore, and you know how that story goes.
Baltimore Tower: You're a Ravens fan then?
Cirrus 123: No.
Baltimore Tower: Ah. A Colts fan, wherever they happen to be?
Cirrus 123: Yeah, that's a good way of putting it.
Short Final January 7, 2007 Returning to Princeton, New Jersey in a Seminole, I was proudly clipping along at 140 knots and can only assume that my deep voice and professional-sounding tone led to us appearing to be more than we were:
Seminole Two Two Eight: "New York approach, Seminole Two Two Eight, 5,000."
Approach: "Seminole Two Two Eight, Morristown altimeter 30.08. Proceed direct Solberg, maintain 5,000. Were you given any speed restrictions? If so, you can resume normal speed."
Seminole Two Two Eight: "Direct Solberg, 5,000, Two Two Eight. And we're a Seminole. This is normal speed."
Short Final December 31, 2006 Returning to Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y., on New Year's Day, I heard the following exchange between the tower controller and the pilot of a Piper Arrow: Arrow: "Republic tower, Arrow Three Four Five, eight miles north, inbound with India." Tower: "Arrow Three Four Five, report right downwind Runway 32." Arrow: "Any chance we can get a straight in?" Tower: "You said you were north didn't you?" Arrow: "Yes, seven miles north." Tower: "Arrow Three Four Five, the only way I can give you a straight in for Runway 32 is if you turn north and continue for about 24,000 miles." Arrow: (momentary silence) "Uh, okay, sorry, Happy New Year..."
Twas The Night Before Christmas -- Aviation Style December 22, 2006 Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,
Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
The aircraft were fastened to tiedowns with care,
In hopes that come morning, they all would be there.
The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.
I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.
When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
Called for clearance to land at the airport below.
He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
I'd have sworn that the call sign he used was "St. Nick".
I ran to the panel to turn up the lights, The better to welcome this magical flight.
He called his position, no room for denial,
"St. Nicholas One, turnin' left onto final."
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!
With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
"Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
On Comet! On Cupid!" What pills was he takin'?
While controllers were sittin', and scratchin' their head,
They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
The message they left was both urgent and dour:
"When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower."
He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
Then I heard "Left at Charlie," and "Taxi to parking."
He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh
And stopped on the ramp with a "Ho, ho-ho-ho..."
He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost
And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.
His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn't inhale.
His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
His boots were as black as a cropduster's belly.
He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
And he asked me to "fill it, with hundred low-lead."
He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
I knew he was anxious for drainin' the sump.
I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.
And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, "Clear!"
And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.
"Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
Turn right three-two-zero at pilot's discretion"
He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
"Your traffic's a Grumman, inbound from the west."
Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed through the night,
"Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight."
Short Final December 17, 2006 We were flying from Chatham, Massachusetts to Nantucket with flight following from Cape approach. The weather was marginal VFR with heavy haze and reasonably poor visibility when out of the mist we heard this on the air:
Cape approach: "Cessna Four Five Six, are you aware that you are heading toward a restricted area?"
Cessna: "No, I wasn't aware of a restricted area. What's in there?"
Cape approach: "It's some type of microwave installation."
Cessna: "Yup, I see a tower ahead."
Cape approach: "That's the tower I want you to miss. If you fly near that tower, it could ruin all your equipment, and you'll never have anv children."
Cessna: "Roger that. Turning now..."
Short Final December 10, 2006 We were in our Seneca performing the pre-takeoff run-up at Orlando Executive Airport when we heard this exchange on ground control frequency:
Cessna: Orlando ground, Cessna Two Three Four, clear of the active.
Ground: Cessna Two Three Four, taxi to the ramp.
Cessna (still on ground frequency but thinking he'd switched to unicom 122.95): Executive Air...ah, this is Cessna Two Three Four...we're going to need some gas.
Ground: I've got plenty of gas, but I don't think it'll work very well in your airplane. Try Executive Air on 122.95.
Short Final December 4, 2006 Overheard while flying practice approaches at Sioux City, Iowa:
Tower: "Skylane Eight Seven Charlie, cleared for the approach; caution, waterfall in the area."
Short silence, presumably while the Skylane pilot questioned passengers on the transmission.
Skylane: "Eight Seven Charlie, say again?"
Tower: "Skylane Eight Seven Charlie, cleared for the approach; caution, waterfall in the area."
Again, short silence.
Skylane: "Ah, cleared for the approach, but what do you mean by the waterfall caution?"
Tower: "Waterfall, you know: Ducks and geese...Waterfowl."
Short Final November 26, 2006 Overheard in the vicinity of Buchanan tower in Concord, Calif.:
Cessna: "Buchanan tower, this is Cessna One Two Three, seven south of Buchanan, 2000 feet, request transit, northbound." Tower: "Cessna One Two Three, transition approved. Report clear." Half minute pause, and then: "Tower, this is Cessna One Two Three; where is Clear?"
Short Final November 19, 2006 Returning to Princeton, N.J., in a Seminole, I was proudly clipping along at 140 knots and can only assume that my deep voice and professional-sounding tone led to us appearing to be more than we were:
Seminole: "New York approach, Seminole Two Two Eight, 5,000."
Approach: "Seminole Two Two Eight, Morristown altimeter 30.08. Proceed direct Solberg, maintain 5,000. Were you given any speed restrictions? If so, you can resume normal speed.
Seminole: "Direct Solberg, 5,000, Two Two Eight. And we're a Seminole. This is normal speed."
Short Final November 12, 2006 Heard at Lawrence, Massachusetts: Tower: "Arrow Eight Two Xray, slowest possible speed. Traffic ahead is an ultralight on a half-mile final." Ultralight: "Tower, we'll climb out so he can land." Tower: "Roger, climb and maintain 1700, runway heading. Arrow Eight Two Xray, cleared to land, caution, mowing in progress, right side of runwav." Arrow: "Roger, duck under the lawn mower ahead and avoid the one on the ground, cleared to land, Arrow Eight Two Xray."
Short Final November 5, 2006 A short but sweet one from AVweb's sister publication IFR.
Overheard on approach to a regional southern airport at eight minutes before the hour...
Approach: Sundownner Two Lima Charlie, do you have information November?
Sundowner 2LC: Uh, negative, we're waiting for, uh, December.
Short Final October 29, 2006 While returning from a cross country into Ellington Field...
Tower: Warrior 123, enter right downwind for 35L.
Warrior 123: Roger, downwind 35L
Tower: Warrior 123, wind calm, cleared for 22 if you like.
Warrior 123: Roger. Cleared for 22.
Warrior 123: Tower, am i cleared for 22? Because ther is a truck in the middle of the runway...
Tower: Warrior 123, go around.
Warrior 123: [While applying power and retracting flaps] Could you get him to move over, because I don't think I can get around him.
Tower: GO AROUND! GO AROUND! GO AROUND!
What can I say? Sometimes the little devil on my shoulder wins.
I was behind a Grob 115 that checked in with the tower, holding short of the active, ready for takeoff, with a Shorts Skyvan on final. This is what happened next...
Tower: Grob 123, sit tight. I'll get you off just as soon as I get my shorts down.
Tower: (With laughter clearly audible in background) Oh, you know what I meant!
Short Final October 16, 2006 "On a clear, crisp day, after a particular strong Southern California winter storm dropped the Jet Stream well south and at a low altitude, I flew my Mooney 231 from Santa Monica, California, to Scottsdale, Arizona. After Landing, I was sitting in the FBO talking about the 100-plus knot tailwind at 19,000 feet when another pilot told me he too had just flown from California in his Mooney 252. He said that he was going so fast that the DME kept going above VNE ... so he had to keep the landing gear down most of the way to keep below the "Never Exceed" speed limitation of his plane."
"I couldn't close my mouth long enough to ask if he was kidding."
Short Final October 9, 2006 A few years ago I was getting an IFR clearance from ground control. When I called for clearance I had a brain fart and forgot where we were going. The conversation went like this:
Me: Ground, lear 1234 looking for clearance to ....... ummmmm .... that airport we're going to.
Ground: Lear 1234 cleared to that airport your goint to via radar vectors...
Don't worry. It came back to me eventually.
"I was sitting on the ramp just about to fly out of Lubbock, TX, yesterday when hopping along came the biggest jackrabbit I ever saw. I thought I would advise ground control about it so they could spare some aircraft from making contact with it on the runway..."
Me: Lubbock ground, um, there's a big jackrabbit headed for the runway on TWY Romeo.
Me: Uh... I thought I would tell you so the people who take care of those things could do something about it.
Ground: Copy that. The coyote over there on Mike looks like he'll take care of it.
DEP: ... Airliner123 cleared to FL33, as filed to Atlanta.
123: (after readback) Wish you worked Atlanta, we always get a stairstep out of there.
DEP: That's why they call us "controllers."
123: I already have a wife.
Short Final July 31, 2006 AirVenture, some pilots just don't get it.
On the return home Saturday I heard the following exchange as I headed southbound passing Madison, WI. Warrior 98765 was heading north and already receiving a Flight Following Service from Madison Approach.
Warrior 123: Madison, Warrior 123. Can you tell me if there is a NOTAM or anything for getting into Oshkosh?
Madison Approach: Say Again ...
Warrior 765: Yeah. Can you tell me if there is any kind of special NOTAM for getting into Oshkosh today?
Madison Approach: You're kidding, right?
Warrior 765: No, my [garbled] was out and I couldn't get anything before I took off. Can you tell me what the arrival procedure is?
Madison Approach: (speaking slowly) I suggest you land before you get there and get a copy. There's one here at Wisconsin Aviation ... or Middleton is in your 10 o'clock.
"I was about to lift off with my instructor from a class D airport in a Robinson R-44. The route of flight would take us very near neighboring Class C airspace. The controller questioned us after we gave our initial heading..."
Controller: Staying clear of all airspaces?
My instructor: ...Except yours.
Controller: Did you just say, 'Up yours'?
I was returning to the US with my niece. The week before, a friend had flown the plane into a local grass strip and there was still mud and residue on the fuselage. As customs agents inspected the plane, one officer asked about the dirt and commented, "I gotta say, that's the first time I've seen grass on the outside of the airplane." Naturally dense (and focused on the inspection) I puzzled as my teenage niece began to choke down laughter.
...She had to explain it to me as we taxied away.
Short Final... June 5, 2006 From a neighbor to the north...
"Last fall my wife and I headed to Oregon so that I could get some flight training that wasn't offered here in Canada. We approached the stern looking US Customs agent and got ready for the typical serious and pointed questions. He asked me my purpose of travel and I explained that I was obtaining pilot training. He then asked my wife for her passport and said, 'and you must be the next of kin.'"
PA-44: Page Traffic, Seminole Echo-Romeo entering the left down wind, we will be simulated single engine...
C-172S: Seminole Echo-Romeo, Cessna is following you into the Downwind on the left 45.
An exchange overheard between an Australian charter company and ATC. The company was in mid-April flying a DC-3 carrying a wedding party at 2000 feet over Sydney harbour while the nuptials took place. The flight's pilot made sure ATC was aware and ready to coordinate a return to the airport...
DC-3: ...and, Sydney, we'll soon be finished with the ceremony and looking for a higher altitude for the return.
DC-3: ...So that's it. He does, she does, and that much is done.
ATC: Very well.
You're cleared for the return at 5280 feet. (Laughing) And tell them to make it snappy.
Short Final... May 15, 2006 The following exchange occurred between my student, the tower, and me at KLVK on 05/08/06...
Cessna N1234 (Student): Livermore tower Cessna 1234 at Sierra ready to taxi 25R with India.
Tower: Roger N1234 taxi to India.
[Student gives me the "Huh? You read it back," look.]
Cessna N1234 (Instructor): Tower N1234 confirm you want us to taxi to 25R. We don't have enough fuel to get to India.
Short Final... May 8, 2006 While working as a controller at Ellsworth Approach Control in the 80's, I heard this exchange.
ATC: Western 474, Ellsworth Approach Control is utilizing a certain phase of the radar called circular polarization, which allows us to depict only the most severe areas of weather on the radar display.
Western 474: Approach, say again, please.
[Without error, ATC repeated the alert, (which I had never heard before!)]
[Second Long Pause...]
Western 474: Approach, we don't know what's going on down there, but the co-pilot seems to think that somebody just circumsized a polar bear.
Many years ago when I was a student pilot flying a C-120, (if you can remember when flight schools used C-120s, you may be older than I am), I groundlooped in front of the tower at BFI. Here's the exchange, as I remember it:
Tower: Cessna triple 7, are you experiencing difficulties?
...not now that I've got the sonofa**** stopped.
Tower: [Through laughter] Triple seven, taxi to the ramp.
Short Final... April 23, 2006 We were out taking pictures for a safety seminar, and admittedly a bit distracted (no, the irony is not lost on us) when we reported a left base to the tower. That's when things got silly...
Us: Tower, we're high, uh, Cessna 1234, on the left base.
Tower: Sir, you're speaking with ATC, and I'm only qualified to respond to the second part of your transmission. Cleared to land 14.
...that first part sounds more appropriate for someone with the ATF.
Short Final... April 17, 2006 Proudly flying my new Lancair Columbia 350 into Tucson International, having been cleared for the visual to 11L, I heard this interchange with a regional jet:
Tower: RJ1234 you're cleared for the visual following the Columbia on a one mile final.
RJ1234: ...I'm following the Space Shuttle?!!
Short Final... April 10, 2006 "I´ve overheard this at the tower frequency at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (EHAM) in The Netherlands..."
Tower: KL123 you are cleared to land on runway 24
KL123: (with a loud background noise) Thank you sir, KL123 cleared to land runway 24
Tower: KL123, what is that high noise on the background?
KL123: It's just normal cockpit noise
Tower: You sound like a Fokker 50 cabriolet
KL123: Fine, I'll close the window
Short Final... April 2, 2006 Overheard while being vectored to the ILS 10 at KMSY the other day:
Approach: Jet 123, maintain 9,000.
Jet 123: Um, ok, we're gonna go through it.
Approach: That's ok, climb and maintain 10,000.
Jet 123: Uh, we're on our way back down to 9,000, now.
Approach: Well, 10 is available, you're welcome to climb and maintain 10,000.
Jet 123: Why are you doing this to us?
Approach: Well, I'm trying to separate you from traffic behind you, if that's OK.
Jet 123: That's fine, but we just zero-g'd an aircraft with a US Senator aboard. We'd rather not squash him, now.
Approach: If I'd known that, I'd have sent you back down to 5,000 first.
Short Final... November 6, 2005 I was working on my multi-engine rating at an airport where the controllers had apparently grown very familiar with the routine for training flights. While on downwind in the Duchess with my instructor, I heard this:
Controller: Bonanza 123AB you will be following a Duchess on downwind ... he's about to lose an engine.
Short Final... October 30, 2005 On arrival at Key West I pulled my TBM 700 past the Taxi way hold short line and keyed the mic to say hello to ground...
Me: Ground, we're going to stop here to clean up a bit.
Ground: Why? It looked like a great landing from here...
On a particularly windy day, I was in a skyhawk on right base for 35.
Me: Wind check.
Controller: Winds 300 at 26
... We've got the trucks on standby.
Short Final... October 17, 2005 (Be careful what you say, someone might be listening.)
Several months ago, whilst assigned to the Tracon, an incident occurred which still causes great laughter throughout our community.
It was a busy arrival session, the controller was working four VHF frequencies -- including approaches into a satellite airport and two UHF frequencies.
After sending numerous transmissions of, Blocked! (by some unknown aircraft chiming in at the wrong time) the controller finally screamed, "Darn it! Every time I key up, some idiot starts talking!
The entire room busted out laughing and, surprisingly, the controller did not get the humor (which only made it that much more funny for the rest of us)!
Short Final... October 9, 2005 Overheard during fleet week practice over the San Francisco Bay;
Nor Cal Approach: Bonanza 1-2-3-4, opposite direction traffic at your 1 o'clock, five miles, five hundred feet above you, Blue Angels flight of two.
Bonanza 1-2-3-4: Negative contact, say again type traffic.
Nor Cal: Two F-18s, blue and yellow. Currently at your one moving to two o'clock ... make that three o'clock ... um ... traffic no longer a factor. Caution, wake turbulence.
Short Final... October 3, 2005 While waiting to enter the taxiway in ONT, (California) an Airbus working for a major parcel carrier came face to face with our corporate 727 and the following conversation ensued:
ONT Twr: Airbus 1234, where are you going today, sir?
Airbus 1234: Right where that 727 is, and, uh, be advised our tail might be a little bit over your runway.
Boeing NABC: Don't worry. A little tail never hurt anybody.
Airbus 1234: ... Wish I could say that.
Short Final... September 26, 2005 Heard on the tower frequency at a major Southwest hub...
Tower: Southwest 972 Position and hold runway 28
Pilot Reply: You're 90 degrees off ... (pause) ... Northwest 972 will position and hold, runway 28
Short Final... September 19, 2005 The dangers of the double negative...
ATC: Did you get your numbers?
Airline: [Somewhat garbled] Negative.
ATC: Was it "Negative?"
Airline: [Again, rather garbled] Affirmative.
ATC: So ... "negative," or "affirmative?"
Airline: "Affirmative" for "negative..." [the other guy in the cockpit can be heard chuckling in the background]
While enjoying a chartered King Air flight, a fellow passenger and I were passing time trying to guess from what part of the country the crew originated. The conversation came to an abrupt end when we noticed one of the landing lights seemed to be shining oddly skyward,
Voice In The Cockpit: Look there, one landing light is possum huntin'.
My Friend: Deep south?
Me: I'll take that bet.
Short Final... August 8, 2005 During 1978 while working ground control, a C-152 from a neighboring airport's flight school was getting ready to depart. Prior to engine start the pilot called the tower and was informed, "Clearance on request, contact ATIS prior to taxi." The instruction prompted the following response...
Pilot: Cessna 1234 ready to taxi and we contacted Patrick ATIS ... but ... uh ... we couldn't get a word in edgewise.
Short Final... August 1, 2005 Occasionally heard on the MRI ATIS on slow days (and dozens of other ATII across the country).
Advise on contact you have information ECHO...Echo...echo...
I had been through the area five days before, controllers stated that they were having intermittent reception on my transponder. I later left their area and had no further problems on the flight. Just to be sure, I had a mechanic check it out, and he found no problems. Five days later, through the same Evansville, Indiana control area, the same problem reared its head...
Controller: Cessna 12345, I am not receiving your transponder.
Me: I don't understand that. I had the same problem with you last week and I had the unit inspected with no problems.
Controller: Well that's peculiar. In that case, maybe it has something to do with the 1950's technology equipment built in the 1970's held together by 1990's duct tape we're using on this end. Come to think of it, it's probably us.
Several years ago I was flying into OSH in the late afternoon, second in line for runway 27 behind a warbird on straight in. As everyone who flies into OSH during convention knows, there are three colored dots on the runway that help separate aircraft so the controller can land three on the same runway at the same time. The conversation went something like this:
Tower: Warbird, cleared to land, runway 27 on the "Green" dot.
Warbird: Ahhh ... which one's the "Green" dot.
Tower: Well, it's not the "Red" one and it's not the "Orange" one.
Warbird: With the glare, they all look the same.
Tower: Oops, sorry, it's the first one. Cleared to land, runway 27, on the first dot.
Short Final... July 3, 2005 Overheard on United flight ATC audio channel.
United: Center, United 123 in light chop -- how's the ride ahead?
Center: Should smooth out in a couple of minutes.
United: Yeah, it just smoothed out for us.
Center: Sometimes it helps just to talk about it.
United: You sound just like my girlfriend.
Unknown: You know ... he *does* sound just like your girlfriend!
As many know when you fly into EAA Airventure at Oshkosh you are asked not to reply to ATC radio communication -- just wiggle your wings and comply. While flying into EAA I heard the following conversation between a landing amphibian and the tower.
Tower: Amphibian say parking.
(pause) Tower: Amphibian say parking.
(pause) Tower: Amphibian say parking!
Amphibian: (In unsure voice) ... Parking.
Tower: Very good. Now -- where -- are you parking?
Short Final... June 19, 2005 Overheard this Fathers' Day...
A friend and local pilot thought his father (a years-ago pilot) would enjoy a chance again at the controls. So he arranged on Fathers' Day for his Dad to go up with an instructor. The "old man" brought it in for a squeaker. Here's what I heard on tower frequency:
Tower: Understand that was 'Senior' at the controls?
Tower: Well we certainly don't see them that nice very often. Thank you, sir, for showing us all how it's done.
Senior: Well, I may not be as good as I once was. But I'm as good once as I ever was.
Clearance Delivery: ...then own navigation as filed. Read back.
Flight 269: Roger. 269 is cleared to Destination Indian Springs via after take off Radar vectors to 4000, then present position direct BOM, pass BOM at 6000 or below, after passing 15,000 turn right on heading 280 to intercept J-156 direct ZZT, thereafter intercept J-158, climb and maintain FL 240 own navigation as filed...
Short Final... May 1, 2005 While flying into Cheyenne one spring day the tower anounced to pattern traffic...
Tower: Piper 1234 be aware of a flock of birds off of runway 12.
Piper 1234: Tower, we have birds in sight off our right wing.
Tower: Piper 1234 can you deternime what kind of birds they are? ...Geese?
Cessna 567: Tower we have a flock of cranes off of our left wing.
Tower: Cessna 567. Can you tell what kind of cranes?
Piper 1234: They appear to be ... unlit cranes.
Unidentified: ... Had that one coming.
Short Final... April 17, 2005 One chilly day last winter, after one of the many snowfalls, the crews were diligently working on keeping the runways clean at Syracuse's Hancock International Airport. The ATIS had the usual warning about snow-covered surfaces. As I was taxiing to the runway, I heard the following conversation between the tower and a landing airplane:
Airplane: You guys need to get some snow melters like they have over in Buffalo.
Tower: We do have one. (Pause.) It's called July 4th.
Airplane: I thought that was just a bad day for ice fishing.
Short Final... April 10, 2005 Sometimes you fly touch-and-go's, sometimes you watch others fly touch-and-go's. Thrity minutes later, still at the runway's threshold...
Plane: Tower, 01Q.
Tower: 01Q, Tower.
Plane: 01Q has a request.
Tower: Go ahead 01Q.
Plane: 01Q would like to taxi back to the FBO to refuel.
Tower: OK 01Q, we'll see if we can't get you out of here today.
Short Final... April 3, 2005 Overheard while flying through Chattanooga, this exchange with approach control and an aerial photo operation...
Skylane 12345: Chattanooga we would like to take pictures of the Chockamauga Dam, one rolling to right and one to left.
Control: Approved. Maintain VFR.
Skylane 12345: Chattanooga, we need to climb to 10,000 to take a couple more.
Control: Approved, maintain VFR.
Skylane 12345: Chattanooga, we would like to shoot one more from the south.
Control: DAM photo approved.
Unknown: Bet he wont ask again.
Short Final... March 28, 2005 Overheard while waiting for takeoff on Runway 29 at Oakland California:
Airliner 123: Airliner 123, waiting in sequence.
Oakland Tower: A little too much information, 123 ... but I'll bet you look adorable in sequins.
As I taxied into the number two position (holding short of the runway behind one of the local flightschool aircraft) I switched to tower frequency -- just in time to hear the following transmission between the tower and student pilot:
Pilot No. 1: Cheerokee 140, C-1234, 2 miles south of Rougemont at 2000 feet in direction of Quebec. For any conflict contact GBBM on 126.7.
Pilot No. 2: Thank you...
... Can we talk about Palestine?
Short Final... November 22, 2004 On an a typical IFR day on the East coast of Florida, I heard a Piper Cherokee check in with Miami Center...
Cherokee N123: Miami Center, Cherokee N123 at 4000, ATIS for Palm Beach. Miami Center: Cherokee N123, maintian 4000. Cherokee: Center, I'll need to get lower to land at Palm Beach. Center: Cherokee N123, let me see what I can arrange.
(Short pause) Center: Cherokee N123, I've got good news. Apparently, you'll be landing at 4000 feet today.
Short Final... November 15, 2004 I flew a Piper Arrow recently from Anoka, Minnesota, to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Somewhere near the Pittsburg Class Bravo airspace we were getting traffic advisories...
Approach: Baron N###, traffic is a Piper Arrow at 11 o'clock, 2 miles.
Thanks Pittsburg, we already have him on the fishfinder.
There is a certain airline that flies Airbus A319s out of Lindberg. The following was overheard there recently...
Controller: Roger [A319], turn left heading 140.
A319: (No answer)
Controller: [A319], Left turn, please. Now make the heading 120. Good rate, please.
A319: Ah, Departure, the airplane won't let us do that.
Controller: Would you mind putting the airplane on the radio, then?
Short Final... November 1, 2004 While flying IFR between Indianapolis, IN and Columbia, MO my wife and I encountered some mild turbulence at 6000. She's a nervous flier, so I decided it would be a good idea to find some smoother air.
Cessna N12345: Center, Cessna 12345 would like to climb to 8 for smoother air.
Center: 345, climb approved.
(After reaching 8000.)
Cessna N12345: 345 level 8.
Center: 345 it looks like you've picked up 10kts.
Mooney N23456: Center, Mooney 456 would like to pick up 10kts too!
A student pilot was on a cross country solo flight to Santa Barbara. Eager to fly "heavy metal" he contacts approach at 5,500 feet for flight following...
N12345: ...approach, Cessna 12345 checking in at flight level 550.
Approach (after a long pause): Roger, Cessna 12345 ... you can contact NASA at 368.2 for further advisories!
Short Final... October 18, 2004 You know it's election season when...
Heard on the Green Bay ATIS broadcast:
"...advise on initial contact that you have information Bravo. I'm Green Bay Ground Control and I approved this ATIS."
Short Final... October 11, 2004 Local Traffic Watch (LTW): Approach, N1234, we can turn northbound anytime.
Approach: Roger, N1234. How about Tuesday afternoon?
LTW: Standby while we check our fuel, N1234.
Short Final... October 3, 2004 While coming into Grand Forks on a rather slow day, I was awaiting the freq change to tower...
Me: Approach N*** looking for tower. Them: N*** 12 o'clock, 11 miles. It's the tall one.
(pause) Them: (laughing) N*** squawk VFR contact tower eighteen four have a good day.
(...Maybe they could see my expression through the radio.)
Short Final... September 26, 2004 By Mary Grady "Overheard this one while in the pattern at PBH..."
Pilot: Price County traffic, Experimental #### will be going down in the lake off the end of 01.
Unicom: Will notify Sheriff's department immediately. Hang on!
Pilot: ...........Uh, negative.........we're an Amphibian.
Short Final... September 19, 2004 I was eagerly awaiting t/o clearance while holding short of the runway in FLL. There were several aircraft on approach, including a Shorts 360. After several requests for t/o, I intervened one more time. The response was a bit of a surprise...
Tower: Sir, just give me a moment while I get my Shorts down.
Short Final... September 13, 2004 ...Overheard one evening in August just west of ATL:
Tower: (To aircraft doing touch and goes alone in the pattern) ...You watching the fireworks just north of here?
Piper1234: Yup ... what's the holiday on August 18th that includes fireworks?
Tower: No clue.
Unidentified: Well, I know what it is. Ten year aniversary of my diviorce.
...And now I know where the money has gone.
Short Final... August 29, 2004 Brown Field, south of San Diego has an 8,000-foot runway offering multiple intersection departures for smaller aircraft (and exits for larger ones)...
Experimental: Brown Tower, experimental ###, holding short of 26R on Bravo. Running late and ready to go.
Tower: Experimental ### hold short landing traffic ... Citation on four mile final.
Experimental: Hold short 26R, ###.
Tower: Experimental ###, can you make room over there on Bravo for the Citation coming off the active?
Experimental: We'll pull off into the run-up area, ###.
Tower: Thank you.
Experimental: Yup. But if there's anything else we could do ... like if they decide their limo needs shining ... please find someone else.
Short Final... August 22, 2004 A long time ago, bopping along in my 180 Arrow at 10,000 feet, IFR in VFR conditions, from Boston to Kalamazoo. It had taken me 20 minutes to get that high -- 10 of that for the last 2,000 feet. Then, Cleveland Center asked me to climb to 11,000 feet for traffic...
Me: You mean it?
ARTCC: Sure do.
Me: Do I hafta?
Me: Okay ... but it's gonna take me ten minutes or better.
ARTCC: Okay, then if I ask you to descend to 9,000 for ten minutes, how long will it take you to get back to 10?
Me: Oh, 'bout the same, 1MV.
ARTCC: Okay, I guess I'll have to go to plan B.... 1MV, maintain one-zero thousand. United 123, turn right 20-degrees for traffic; American 456, maintain niner thousand for opposite direction traffic, 12 o'clock 10 miles at 10 thou; Trans World 789, cancel direct, turn right 250-degrees, and stop the descent at 0ne-two thousand ...
Short Final... August 16, 2004 Heard on frequency during some nasty weather, a beech 18 night freight pilot offered a report about his current situation...
ATC: Copy. Care to offer a PIREP?
Beech: Sure. At 12,000 we've got lightning ... cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-ground ... so far, negative cloud-to-airplane-to-ground...
Short Final... August 8, 2004 Overheard by passenger on United flight SNA to ORD...
Fedex ###: Fedex ### with you at FL230.
Kansas City Area Control: Fedex ###, roger. How long to climb to FL310?
Fedex ###: Roger, just a minute...
Unknown 1: I gotta get me one o' whatever he's flyin'.
Unknown 2: ...must be outta Cape Kennedy.
Short Final... July 25, 2004 Recently while flying over central Missouri, I overheard a controller responding to a request for VFR Flight Following...
Approach: ...And your type aircraft?
Pilot: Beech Dutchess, Low wing, twin-engine, white and blue.
Pilot: You're all a quarter-inch long and green to me.
Short Final... July 18, 2004 Climbing through 800' past the departure end in my Cherokee, I heard the tower clear a Cheyenne for takeoff. As I waited for tower to call me out to the Cheyenne for the inevitible pass, I craned my neck around hoping to get a visual. When neither occured, I voiced my concern...
Me: Exec tower, Cherokee 123, what can you tell me about the Cheyenne at my six?
Tower: Oh it's a BIG, PRETTY plane; with wings and wheels, and it looks like a big Tylenol...
Short Final July 11, 2004 Tower: Katana ###F you are number two for landing following a Piper Warrior.
Katana ###F (a student ... me): Number two following a Warrior that I am looking for.
Tower: The Warrior is on left downwind at about 2 oíclock.
Katana ###F: I have the traffic in sight, Katana ###F.
(Few moments pass)
Katana ###F: Santa Rosa Tower, Katana ###F does not have the traffic in sight. What I saw was a bird.
Tower: (Laughter from the tower) Katana ###F, continue downwind. I'll call your turn to base.
Tower: Landing traffic, be advised that there's still a turkey on the runway.
Pilot (speaking immediately): Tower, Cessna ### clear of the active.
Tower: Thank you ... (laughter) ... but I meant the real turkey.
Short Final... May 30, 2004 (Three runways, two intersections and a lesson in geometry.)
While doing touch and goes at my home airport... Tower: Experimental XYZ, cleared to land 17, hold short of 35.
Me (without thinking): Roger, cleared on 17, hold short of 35.
(Several seconds later.)
Voice on frequency: I want to see this!
Another voice: Me, too!
Tower: Uh, Experimental XYZ, make that hold short of 22.
Short Final... May 23, 2004 While practicing for my commercial license I was in the practice area west of Cleveland Hopkins airport. I had the radio tuned to the tower and heard this...
Controller: Cessna ###, what is your purpose here on the field?
Pilot: I'm here for my check ride.
(pause) Controller: Are you a bit nervous?
Pilot: A bit...
Controller: Because you landed on the taxiway instead of the assigned runway....
Pilot: Approach, Skylane N###, Could I have a right turn direct my
Approach: Standby. I'll check to see if that Dash 8 doing 200 knots up your five-o'clock feels like wearing you on his lapel...
Short Final... April 19, 2004 Submitted to you without further comment ... the pilots of Cessna ABC weren't as lucky.
Cessna XYZ: Cessna ABC, Cessna XYZ return to base due to turbulence. Student unwell.
Cessna ABC: Cessna XYZ, my student suggests it will be better for the both of you if you climb on top.
Short Final... April 11, 2004 A Cessna 182 and a Christen Eagle were on parallel approach for 28L and 28R, respectively, at FCM...
Tower: Cessna XXX, do you have traffic?
Cessna: Cessna XXX has the traffic, he's right beside me.
Tower: Eagle XXX, traffic is a Cessna 182 on parallel for 28L, Eagle XXX is cleared for landing, Runway 28R.
Christen Eagle: Roger, Eagle XXX has traffic, cleared to land Runway 28R.
Cessna: Tower, Cessna XXX here, can you let me know when ...
.... "the Eagle has landed"?
(Several seconds of silence on frequency.)
Unidentified voice: Smart @ss.
Short Final... April 4, 2004 Overheard in the pilot's lounge, a student pilot receives a briefing over a speakerphone...
Pilot: I've never flown into there before. Do you have anything you can tell me aside from the weather?
Briefer: The windsock is inoperable.
Briefer: Apparently their wind is out of service.
Short Final... March 28, 2004 Overheard while awaiting clearance at Wellington Airport, NZ, in poor, gusty weather...
Tower: XXX be advised the previous aircraft reports reduced wind shear on final, and decreasing crosswind.
XXX: "Oh. Goody..."
Short Final... March 22, 2004 Overheard while approaching the control zone in Wellington, New Zealand.......
ZKxxx: Request entry into the zone with Charlie 1021, currently 20 miles to the south west at 2500.
Wellington Tower: Cleared to enter the zone via the Sinclair Sector 1500 feet or below.
ZKxxx: Cleared to enter the zone via Sinclair at 1500 or below.
(A few minutes later...)
Tower: ZKxxx, suggest you descend to 1500 immediate to avoid a fast approaching pile of paperwork.
During an IFR training flight, while getting vectored to the ILS-35, on a heading of 090...
Approach (female controller): Cardinal XXX, turn left heading 350 to intercept, cleared for the approach... Sorry for the bad vector, if you go through the localizer, continue left turn to 330 to intercept.
Cardinal XXX (male instructor): No problem, it was a perfect turn on...
... to the final approach course I mean!
Short Final... March 7, 2004 From our "been there, done that" files...
On my first cross-country with friends after passing my private pilot checkride (back in the late Paleolithic...), I was in the runup area, working through the pre-takeoff checklist. An uncharacteristically subdued voice said from the rear seat, "If she still has to read the directions, I don't think I want to go!"
Short Final... February 29, 2004 From our "Fans of Business AVflash" file:
re: Business AVflash Volume 2, Issue 4 -- February 25, 2004.
You referred to "East Overshoe, Wyoming" in your article
about the TSA. East Overshoe is in Connecticut. The town
you're thinking of is Medicine Breath, Wyoming.
Short Final... February 22, 2004 "While flying the Santa Monica VOR-A approach tonight, I heard SoCal approach say..."
Approach: November XXXX say again type.
NXXXX: We're a Beech 19. You know, the little one.
Approach: Roger. So what you're saying is you're a little son of a Beech.
Short Final... February 15, 2004 Overheard at Bankstown Airport in suburban Sydney...
Tower: ABC, cleared for takeoff. Caution for a rabbit at the far end of the runway.
ABC: Roger rabbit...
Short Final... February 9, 2004 From our, "There's a right way, and then there's other ways," file...
Tower: Cessna XXX cleared to land 20.
Cessna: Cleared to land 20.
Tower: Cessna XXX can you land and hold short 31-13.
(brief pause.....) Cessna: You bethca.
Tower: XXX is that a roger.
Cessna: ...Roger. Land and hold short 31-13.
Short Final... January 25, 2004 Tower: Skyhawk xxx follow Baron on four mile final for 17L.
Skyhawk: Baron in sight.
a little later...
Tower: Skyhawk you're 10 knots faster than the Baron. Slow down.
Skyhawk: Yeeha!!! (Followed by hysterical laughter.)
Tower: Right... Not something you hear every day.
Short Final... January 18, 2004 Carrier 1234: Cape Approach, can we get direct Boston?
Approach: Your wish is my command...
Carrier 1234: Approach, got time for another wish?
Approach: Nope, you used up your wish.
Carrier 1234: I don't get three?
Approach: Carrier 1234, did you say Boston, or Austin?
Carrier 1234: ...I'll take that as a "No."
Short Final... January 11, 2004 All pilots, use caution for flocks of birds on and in the vicinity of the airport...
Tower: Skyhawk XXXXX, be advised there are 10,000 seagulls near the approach of runway 15.
Skyhawk: Roger. Is that an official count?
Tower: Just a quick count.
(pause) Tower: Skyhawk XXXXX, be advised there are 10,435 seagulls near the approach of runway 15 ... and you're cleared for the option.
Short Final... January 4, 2004 Overheard at KLAS, Dec. 19, 2003, 9:30pm...
ATC: NABCD, after departure turn left heading 175 climb and maintain at or below 4,000, departure 125.9 and squawk XXXX.
Pilot: Any chance of a higher inital altitude?
ATC: We give you 4,000 in case of lost com.
Pilot: I know thats why I want higher.
Short Final... December 29, 2003 Heard on the Ellington Field ATIS on Christmas Eve.:
"... on initial contact advise you have Ellington information Rudolph."
Short Final... December 21, 2003 Overheard December 18, 2003, at a local gliderport...
"A moment of silence everyone, for today we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the tow plane."
Short Final... December 14, 2003 At a busy local airport one sunny Saturday flight instructors were hopping in and out of different aircraft all day long:
Unidentified pilot: Montgomery Ground, Cessna, er, Cessna ... wait ... who am I today?
I'll have to call you back.
Ground: Roger, call back when you know who you are.
Taxing back for a departure on Rwy 23 at Morristown (MMU), I noticed a group of 10 or so snow geese walking across the taxiway toward the runway. I paused for a moment and started to maneuver in behind the group of waterfowl. Then I heard ...
GROUND CONTROL: Cessna 123, those things are really a pain in the tail feathers.
ME: Some one is going to have to teach them a lesson.
GROUND: (refering to a Citation on short final) It looks like they are going to get that lesson.
UNIDENTIFIED: "Mmmm -- Pate!"
Short Final... November 30, 2003 Over Philly on a gorgeous CAVU Sunday...
Cessna XXX: Philly approach, Cessna XXX with you at 4,500.
Philly Approach: Cessna XXX, Roger, Altimeter 30.69 and numerous targets in your vicinity.
Cessna XXX: Could you be more specific about the targets?
Philly Approach: OK, 12 o'clock, 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock - would you like me to continue?
Cessna XXX: Negative, we get the picture...
Short Final... November 23, 2003 When I called the Oakland FSS today for a preflight briefing and asked about TFRs in the area I received probably the best explanation so far of what the blanket National Security NOTAM meant in practice: "Just the usual one that's been in place for a while, you know, don't be makin' pylon turns around the Golden Gate bridge..."
Short Final... November 9, 2003 Overheard recently -- while I was literally on short final, in fact:
Tower: Cessna XXX, you said you were at taxiway Alpha One? Alpha Two?
United XXX: LA Center, say again the frequency for United XXX. No answer on 133.4.
Center: United XXX, 133.4 is correct. Try again. If there's still no answer, come back up this frequency ... and I'll send somebody over there to smack the dirt out of their ears.
Short Final October 27, 2003 An SLC Center Controler I know has his personal aircraft hangered at the local Muni airport. Facing his hangar is another that houses a Green Cessna 210. One day that Cessna came into his sector. My controler friend recognized the N number. The exchange follows...
Controller: N123, is that airplane painted green?
Pilot: Uh, yes. ...Why?
Controller: Just checking our new color radar.
Short Final... October 19, 2003 Overheard on the Mexico City ground control freq....
F-100: Ground control, F-100 ready to taxi.
Ground: F-100 clear to taxi to Runway 5 left. Follow the 767 ahead of you.
F-100: Where is the '67 going?
Ground: To Madrid ... but you just follow him till before the runway!!!
Short Final... October 13, 2003 From Grand Rapids tower...
Tower to Continental ABC: I see that your flight plan states, "no ice".
Won't the passengers be upset?
Tower (again): Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
Short Final... October 6, 2003 I was taking my brother for his first flight in a GA airplane. He was somewhat nervous and a little overwhelmed by what we go through to launch a flight. I picked up the local ATIS on my handheld before engine start and, after we got in the plane and were ready to call for taxi clearance, I briefed him on the kind of radio transmissions he would hear as we taxied out and took off. That education behind us, I called for taxi clearance:
Me: Skylane 12345, West hangers, with MIKE, taxi.
Before I could get a word in edge-wise, my brother, Mike, (with awe in his voice...) said, You have to even tell them who is with you?
It took several minutes for me to regain composure and get on with the flight.
Short Final... September 28, 2003 Approach : Heavy 123 : Hold straight and level!
Heavy 123: Holding straight and level.
At least, that's assuming my First Officer can hold straight & Level...
Short Final... September 21, 2003 Back in the 70's, BOAC (British Airways) flew into O'Hare Chicago and their call sign was "Speedbird"...
O'Hare: Speedbird xxx slow to 200 kts.
Speedbird xxx: Sorry, running late, need to keep the speed up.
O'Hare: Ok, turn right 90 degrees and keep your speed up.
Speedbird xxx: Errr, how long would we be on that heading?
O'Hare: Till you slow to 200.
Speedbird xxx: Roger, slowing to 200
Short Final... September 14, 2003 Boston Center: Citation XXX, Boston Center now on 123.75.
Citation XXX: 127.35, have a nice day.
Boston Center: Citation XXX, that frequency is 123.75.
Citation XXX: Sorry, 123.75, we were dyslexic but were KO now.
Short Final... September 7, 2003 Overheard en route out of Morristown, NJ (MMU) to Covington, KY (CVG)...
Departure Control: Continental ABC turn left heading 240 degrees and climb to 11,000.
Departure Control: Continental ABC, Simon says turn left heading 240 degrees and climb to 11,000.
Continental ABC: Roger, left turn 240 and up to 11,000, Continental ABC.
Short Final... August 31, 2003 Control: Continental XXX give me a good rate please through FL100?
Continental XXX: Well sir, we are doing 2000fpm
Controller: Could you make it 3000 fpm?
Continental XXX: No Sir.
Controller: Oh ... do you not have speedbrakes?
Continental: Yes sir, I do, but that is for MY mistakes, not for YOURS!
As I was heading across the Desert a few monthes back, at the height of the Iraqi war, and wanting to cut through R2515 around Edwards Air Force Base, I had the following exchange with Joshua Approach...
Joshua Approach, Musketeer 123 requesting transition through R2515.
Joshua: Restricted area currently off limits, but let me talk to them at Edwards.
(About 20 seconds of dead air and then Joshua came back to me.)
Joshua: Musketeer 123, Proceed through the restricted area as requested, they need some practice on slow targets.
Short Final... August 10, 2003 Overheard while flying east from Dayton...
Approach: Cirrus 123, whats your speed?
Cirrus 123: Now showing 200kts over the ground on the GPS.
Unknown Pilot on Frequency: Thats one fast-moving cloud!
Short Final... August 3, 2003 While flying through Colorado Springs Class C the other day, I heard the following exchange:
United 1234: "Springs Approach, United 1234. We cant read the localizer. Is there a problem?"
Approach: "The box is actually sitting right behind me. Theyre doing an upgrade and it should be back in service this Winter."
United 1234: "We cant hold that long."
Short Final... July 27, 2003 I was in the pattern at FXE one night and I heard an aircraft taxiing out from Banyan Air Service tell the tower that he saw some debris on the taxiway. As the aircraft got closer the pilot said it looked like a pair of goggles on the taxiway. Discussion then ensued between the aircraft, the tower and the security guard in a truck being vectored to the location, about what type of goggles, Scuba, Snoopy type Flying goggles, Foggles etc. Once it was established that they were flying goggles or foggles the controller asked if any other debris was sighted and the pilot said no but he would be on the lookout for any doghouse parts or a beagle on the run.
Short Final... July 20, 2003 I fly skydivers and am talking to controllers at the best ATC facility around quite often. One day traffic on the frequency was a little light so one of the controllers had a little fun:
Cessna123: Jumpers away!
Approach (in his best kid-on-a-ride voice): WEEEEEEE!
Short Final... July 13, 2003 After holding short of runway 4, with no traffic in sight and the vice-president of the company riding shotgun ...
Pilot: "Cessna 123, still holding short."
Tower: " Cessna 123, Hold your taters."
Pilot: "Taters held, over."
Tower: "Cessna 123, release taters, [chuckle] Runway 33, position and hold."
The VP was impressed and the pilot is now known company-wide as "Tater".
Nearly fifty yars ago when I was a NAVCAD (Naval Aviation Cadet), one of our classmates had an accident. One of the accident board members asked him what he thought caused the accident.
His reply: "Well sir, I ran out of airspeed, altitude and ideas all at the same time."
Short Final... June 22, 2003 The definition of irony: Naming an airport after a President that fired all of the Air Traffic Controllers.
Short Final... June 16, 2003 An exchange observed between the pilot of a sleek experimental and a Cessna driver shortly after they both taxied to the ramp...
Cessna Pilot: Wow. That thing really moves! You must have to wind the rubberband really tight.
Experimental Pilot: Nah, the kit came with an option for an extra hamster wheel. You're jealous?
Cessna Pilot: ...About 50 knots jealous, yes.
Short Final... June 9, 2003 An exchange overheard between departure control at a Canadian airport and a B727 pilot.
Pilot: Where's Annule?
Dep. Control: What is it ... an intersection or something?
Pilot: I don't know.
Dep. Control: Where did you see it?
Pilot: On the screens in the terminal. Lots of airlines go there but the flight's always cancelled.
Dep. Control: (laughter) Welcome to Canada, Monsieur. "Annule" is French for "cancelled."
Pilot: Ah. Oui, oui.
While flying in Saturday morning around 10:30 am to the EAA southwest show at New Braunfel's (BAZ), the very busy tower and an experimental aircraft on final had this exchange.
Experimental ABX: "Tower, experimental ABX, I'm dodging a bunch of airplanes.
Tower: "Good, keep dodging. You're number 4 on final."
Short Final... May 25, 2003 Years ago, as a student pilot, I remember the fear when my instructor told me we would be flying into Class B (then known as a TCA). What happens if I miss a call? What happens if I blow an altitude, or screw up a heading? He kept re-assuring me that I would do just fine. But I wasn't convinced.
I made contact and entered the airspace, flying my assigned altitude and heading with sweaty palms, listening to the pros.
Suddenly, ATC, in a very cynical, condescending tone, barked out "Northwest 560, WHERE are you going?"
A rather timid voice came back with "Heading 260, sir."
"I said 360! Fly heading 360. Just where do you think the airport is?"
"Roger ... 360" was the reply.
"Cessna XYZ, fly heading 300."
"Heading 300, Cessna XYZ."
"Thanks, at least SOMEONE here can follow instructions."
From that point on, flying in controlled airspace was no sweat.
Short Final... May 18, 2003 Having just rolled out and made my way to the taxiway, I contacted ground control. The taxiways were very lengthy and one way. This would have added nearly a mile to my travel to the gas pumps which were only several hundred yards away. "Ground control, Cessna ***** at Alpha 6, can I "fudge" a bit and turn left to the pumps?" After a short pause, "Cessna *****, fudging approved."
Short Final... May 11, 2003 We often have strong winds in Texas. But they usually pick a direction and stay put. This particular night while returning to home base at ADS, the ATIS said the winds were 150 at 15 (right down the runway). Since I was getting a real workout on the controls, I called for a wind check. Tower: "Variable, 120 to 180, 22 gusting to 32." Me: (With sarcasm) "Oh, that sounds like fun." Tower: "We've got the cameras rolling."
Short Final... May 4, 2003 While flying between Ft Worth TX and Baton Rouge, LA I had to make a fuel stop as the Yak has only a 31 gallon tank to keep wayward Russian trainees close to home. I chose Many,La for a quick turn around and then on to BTR. After landing in Many, I taxied up to the pump, jumped out and streched my legs. While enjoying the small airport environment on this beautiful day, the silence was broken by the sound of 3 turbine Air Tractors coming in at low level and landing. They taxied smartly up to the parking area close to the fuel pumps and spun around into their parking spots and shut down their engines. All three pilots jumped down from their Air Tractors and started walking toward me.
One of the pilots yelled out "Do you speak English?" in his thick Texas accent. All could think to say was "Nhyet".
Short Final... April 27, 2003 After arriving in SLC we checked in with the ground controller. His radio wasn't the clearest. As we were taxiing to the ramp another aircraft asked the controller, "Has anyone else told you your communications are garbled?" Ground replied, "My Wife!"
Short Final... April 20, 2003 A friend of mine was cruising along in his turbo arrow at 18,000 feet one day when a 737 was called out to him at his 1 o'clock and 15 miles passing to his left. The 737 crew was similarly advised. When they passed, the 737 Capt remarked "What are you doing up here?" My friend replied, "About a 178 knots."
Short Final... April 13, 2003 Seen on a Yahoo Message Board regarding a story about a pilot who Sunday made a successful emergency landing on a freeway in Anaheim, Calif.:
"THIS JUST IN - Chicago Mayor Richard Daley plans to carve giant "X"es into the Riverside Freeway at midnight tonight."
Short Final... April 6, 2003 More from our "It's all about priorities" file ...
Saturday a.m. -- during Round 2 March Madness in Illinois. After too much coffee and two hours of touch & goes I was on base after an extended downwind. Two regional jets were waiting for IFR clearance and for me to get out of their way.
Cessna 12345: Tower, Cessna 345 on two-mile final for Runway 29.
Tower: Will that be touch and go?
Cessna: No, the Illinois game is about to start soon. This will be full stop.
Regional Jet: Nice Priorities. Go Illini!
Cessna: Well, that and I really have to pee.
Tower: Roger 345. Clear to land on 29. Best of luck with both.
Short Final... March 30, 2003 Frustrated Controller at LaGuardia on a busy day: "Skyhawk 735 do a one minute 360 for spacing on the final".
Veteran, cool, knowledgeable pilot "A standard rate-turn 360 degrees takes two minutes"
The comm radio failed again while practicing instrument approaches. After restoring communications...
Cessna 12345: "Approach, Cessna 12345 is going to break of the approach, procede VFR to (uncontrolled home field), and kick this radio down the stairwell."
Controller, "Cessna 12345, approved, squawk VFR. After a short pause, "Will that work with my teenager?"
Short Final... March 16, 2003 Early in my tailwheel instruction, my instructor was trying to teach me wheel landings in a Citabria during a Southern California full-blown Santa Ana. Winds were approximately 45 degrees to the runway, blowing 20 knots, gusting to 35+ knots. After about 20 attempts, with about 20 saves from my instructor (lots of crow-hopping, bounces, you name it, using all of a 150-foot-wide runway), I decided I was done:
Tower: Citabria 123, northbound departure approved. Sorry to see you boys leave -- sure has been entertaining!
Short Final... March 9, 2003 More from our "It's all relative file" ...
Approach Control: Cessna 123N, say flight conditions.
Cessna 123N: I'm not sure ... it's so hazy up here it's hard to tell.
Short Final... March 2, 2003 A pilot was sitting in his seat and pulled out a .38 revolver. He placed it on top of the instrument panel, then asked the navigator, "Do you know what I use this for?"
The nav replied timidly, "No, what's it for?"
The pilot responded, "I use this on navigators who get me lost!"
The navigator proceeded to pull out a .45 and place it on his chart table.
The pilot asked, "What's that for?"
"To be honest sir," the nav replied, "I'll know we're lost before you will."
Short Final... February 23, 2003 More from our When you gotta go, you gotta go file...
While waiting on the ground for one-half hour on the ground for bad weather to clear, I overheard the following:
Tower: "United 123 taxi into position and hold"
United 123: "We are unable to. We have a passenger in the lavatory"
Tower: "United 124, do you have a passenger in the lav?"
United 124: "No sir"
Tower: "United 124, your up!"
Short Final... February 16, 2003 Last week's short final made me think of our local GA airport, which features the following sign in the men's room:
"Pilots with a short pitot tube and low manifold pressure are advised to taxi up close..."
Short Final... February 9, 2003 In the late 80's, I attended Daniel Webster College for my Aviation Management/Flight Operations Degree. At the time there were several AF ROTC candidates on campus and the usual amount of paraphernalia that accompanies their recruitment.
While visiting a friend, an ROTC candidate, in his on-campus townhouse, I had to use his "facilities." To my surprise, I noticed a pencil on top of the commode that inappropriately advertised, "Air Force -- Aim High!"
Short Final... February 2, 2003 Sometimes when we are stressed we forget to think before we key the mike. This actually happened after the oil line blew.
88U : Manchester (NH) tower Cherokee 5988U is five miles NW with a total engine failure.
MHT: (Using that standard FAA terminology) What are your intentions?
88U: I intend to land!
MHT : (that standard terminology again) Roger, how many souls on board?
On a pleasant spring morning at the Ohio State University's Don Scott airport, with many students doing the required bounce-and-goes on 27L and 27R, I was cleared to taxi to the less active 32:
C-172: Holding short 32 awaiting release.
Twr: Student C-150 departing 27L. Position and hold 32.
C-172: Position and hold 32, caution for wake turbulance
After departing on 32 I heard the student setting up for another touch and go:
C-150: Cessna 150 heavy, cleared touch and go.
Twr: [bigger chuckle]
Short Final... January 19, 2003 More from our "Flying IS fun" file...
I took my cousin for a plane ride a few years ago. After an hour, we headed back to DuPage airport. The last 10 minutes of the flight were quiet, with almost no conversation. About six miles out, I keyed the mic and opened my mouth to contact the tower, when all of a sudden my cousin shouts loudly, "HEY, LOOK, THERE'S A NAKED LADY DOWN THERE BY THE SWIMMING POOL!" My mouth was still open and the mic button was still pushed.
Short Final January 12, 2003 More from our "How they handle the stress" file...
Part of the passenger arrival briefing from the lone flight attendant on a United Express O'Hare-to-Memphis flight.
"Please remove all personal items from the aircraft. Any items left on board can be found at my yard sale next Sunday."
Short Final... January 5, 2003 More from our "Employee Relations" file...
(Two company DH8's on final into Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.)
Controller: CO1234, your traffic is company DH8, at your 11 o'clock, 3,000.
CO1234: Roger Saskatoon, have company DH8 in sight, too close for missiles, going to guns.
Controller: Roger ... please avoid hitting tower.
Short Final... December 29, 2002 From our "It all depends on how you look at it" file...
Short Final... December 27, 2002 In a holding pattern behind several aircraft...
Short Final... December 27, 2002 A sailplane turned final too low to make the desired runway. Equipped with a hand-held microphone, the pilot radioed his intention to change runways ...
Short Final... December 18, 2002 Heard at Republic Airport, Long Island.
Short Final December 15, 2002 By Russ Niles From our "Learning to fly is FUN" file...
Short Final... December 13, 2002 Ground Controller observed an aircraft make a wrong turn off the ramp and was proceeding in the opposite direction then intended.
Short Final... November 21, 2002 Pilot: Approach, Cessna 1234, student pilot ... I am at 3500 feet and am otherwise a bit lost.
Short Final... November 19, 2002 Overheard following a Lear's very steep climb out of Teterboro
Short Final... November 19, 2002 Overheard on Tallahassee Approach during some very turbulent weather conditions.
Short Final... November 19, 2002 You know it's football season when...