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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:

NY Approach:
"Squawk 1238."

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'?"

NY Approach:
"Yes. Squawk 1238."

(I was laughing.)

"I can't."

NY Approach:
"You can't squawk 1238?"

Pilot (definitively) :
"That's right. I can't."

Ten long seconds went by.

NY Approach:
"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.

Michael McNamara
via e-mail

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