Short Final: Twilight Zone

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My wife and I departed Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix in our Cessna 177RG. Before departing we received a complicated taxi clearance to what looked like a parking lot at the end the active runway. Deer Valley calls itself “the busiest general aviation airport in the country” with lots of flight training. The “parking lot” was just a runup area, able to handle lots of planes.

There weren’t that many planes when we were departing but for my wife and me it was like “The Twilight Zone” in that the tower would clear an airplane we could see ahead of us to the active runway with either a “line up and wait” or “cleared for takeoff ” using a different number other than the plane’s N number. It was confusing.

After we took off, I couldn’t help myself and asked the tower what was going on. He didn’t understand my request at first, so I repeated. He came back laughing and said that they have an agreement with the local flight school that since so many of their tail numbers are so similar, they’ve assigned special numbers to avoid confusion. Well, so much for “The Twilight Zone.”

Brian Gately
Brooklyn, NY

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