Short Final: Flight Following

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While flying as co-pilot (actually, the radio operator) on a VFR Angel Flight blood delivery mission to San Bernardino Airport (KSBD) near Ontario, we were handed off to the tower by SoCal approach. Unbeknownst to us, the KSBD tower doesn’t have radar even though it has a FedEx depot, a big FBO, an airliner graveyard, in addition to GA traffic of all kinds. My initial call up assumed that the tower was aware of us; he wasn’t. Once that got straightened out, we delivered the blood.

While taxiing for departure, it was apparent that the seasoned tower controller was alone, covering all frequencies. Another ill-informed aircraft made a simple request:

“San Bernardino Ground, this is Piper N123A, requesting flight following.”

“Piper N123A, we don’t have flight following. All we we got is six windows and a radio.”

Steve Silverman

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