Short Final

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Back before Houston's Hobby airport was given a Class B veil, I had my single engine Beechcraft based there.  It was a busy mix of private planes and Southwest Airlines jets.  One afternoon, as I was returning to the airport, I was directed to overfly the field and turn final to runway 17.  At Hobby, runways 17 and 13 join at the northwest corner, so an aircraft could use either one from the starting point.  As I crossed over, I heard the following communications between the control tower and a Piper twin obviously unfamiliar with the airport.   

Tower:  Piper 123, cleared for takeoff runway 17, right turn out approved.

The Piper acknowledged the clearance but started toward runway 13 instead.  

Tower:  Piper 123, you were cleared to 17, but you are using 13. (brief pause) But, that's okay, continue on 13.

The pause was just long enough for the Piper to make a hard right turn toward 17 before hearing the revised clearance.

Tower:  Piper 123, okay, now you are using 17.  Go ahead and continue.

Too late, the Piper swung into a left turn back to 13.

Tower:  Ah, Piper 123 now you are back to 13, okay, cleared for takeoff.

 Again, the confused Piper pilot swung back toward 17.

 Tower (in exasperation):  Uh sir, Piper 123, pick a runway, either runway and just take off!


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