Short Final: Squawk Altitude

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Back in the days when Pueblo, Colorado, still had a TRACAB (terminal radar in the tower cab), I was visiting with the controllers when the following took place.

A Cessna pilot, who hopefully was a student, was on a flight from Colorado Springs, field elevation of 6,172 feet MSL, to Pueblo, elevation 4,725 feet MSL. After being handed off from Colorado Springs Departure to Pueblo Approach, the Pueblo controller made contact with the Cessna but was not receiving the mode C readout. The transmissions that followed went something like this:

Approach: “Cessna 567, squawk altitude.”

Cessna 567: “Roger.”

After a short pause...

Approach: “Cessna 567, do you need assistance?”

Cessna 567: “No, sir.”

Approach: “Cessna 567, do you need emergency equipment standing by?”

Cessna 567: “No sir.”

Approach: “Cessna 567, what is the nature of your emergency?”

Cessna 567: “No emergency, sir. Just heading to Pueblo for touch and goes.”

Approach: “Roger, Cessna 567, please squawk 1200.”

Aircraft from Colorado Springs to Pueblo quite often fly at 7,500 MSL. Any guesses as to what code the pilot had entered in his transponder when asked to “squawk altitude”?

When reality struck, everyone in the tower was doubled over for quite a while.

Alan R. von Ahlefeldt
Parker, CO

 


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