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Santa Barbara Municipal Airport has intersecting runways. Runway 7/25 handles all of the airlines and most private jets while the parallel 15/33 pair is for private piston aircraft—long as the normal westerly winds cooperate.

Juggling the vast differences in approach speeds and timing on the intersecting runways requires a lot of skill and experience on the part of the tower controllers; some call it almost an art. However, we are fortunate that the tower crew is almost always on their A game, even when training the rare “newbie.”

Most local pilots help the tower’s coordination on a busy day when on final to Runway 15 L or R, to plan to land long, crossing the intersection with 25 before touchdown. This allows a fast approaching commercial airliner a little more breathing room. This is especially helpful when training aircraft, mostly 152/172’s and the like, are doing repeated pattern work. The local CFIs and the tower staff have a familiar and great working relationship and it pays dividends to both.

Several years ago, as I was on approach to 15 in my Baron and as my approach speed was faster than normal, tower told me to slow down and square my base turn to final due to a 172 landing on Runway 15. I confirmed the instructions and before I could do anything, a familiar instructor voice called the tower saying, “Cessna XYZ will be making a poetic landing to help the Baron.”

Tower’s response, of course was, “What is a poetic landing?”

“A Longfellow,” the instructor replied.

Everybody on frequency gave a mic-click laugh at that one.

Ronald Hays

Santa Barbara, CA

This originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of IFR Magazine, The magazine for the accomplished pilot


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