Short Final: Information Whiskey


I do flights in my Cessna Cardinal for PALS, Patient Airlift Services, such as flying people with cancer to their medical appointments in another city. On one recent flight, I decided to let my passenger/patient put a headset on so she could hear me talking to the controllers.

Well, we were taking off from Hudson Valley Regional Airport, Poughkeepsie, and ATIS information Whiskey was current. The ground controller, when I called ready to taxi asked, “Confirm you have Whiskey.”

I of course did.

Once we took off, my passenger asked me, with her eyes wide open in surprise, “It’s okay to fly with whiskey? I certainly hope you’re sober.”

I had to explain the terminal information system and the phonetic alphabet to her to keep my reputation intact.

Brian Gately

Brooklyn, New York

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  1. Related anecdote–I was flying our King Air, N22WC–and had a passenger ask if he could occupy the vacant right seat. I put the headset on so he could hear the conversation. He was having a good time on the flight–and once up at the flight levels, I took the time to explain the airplane to him–this would be a 3 hour flight.

    About half way through the flight, he said “All the controllers seem to know you”–I replied that I flew this route often. “I thought you said your name was Jim.” I replied that I was indeed “Jim”–the passenger got serious and asked “Why do they call you “Charlie”? I replied that “Charlie” was the phonetic pronunciation for “C”.

    He replied–“I have to ask–do you have a drinking problem?” I was surprised, and asked why he had asked me. He laughed, and said “I was getting a little nervous–I’m up here all alone with you–the controllers all called you “Whisky Charlie”–I didn’t know if you were a bootlegger, or had a drinking problem!”

    Sometimes, maybe it’s BETTER that passengers don’t ride up front!”

  2. In the 2000s, I flew a traffic watch plane around Atlanta bouncing among five Class Charlies and the Bravo surface. I loved the tail number on that bird… Five One Two Whiskey Whiskey.

    Last I looked, she’s sold off a second time to someone down in south Florida.

  3. Years ago, I flew Angel Flight trips in a ’67 Cherokee Six–built at the time when ALL Piper Cherokees had tail numbers ending in “W”. My callsign was “Angel Flight 69W”. My passenger remarked he thought it was funny that a charitable flight used a callsign consisting of a sexual perversion and an alcoholic drink.