Short Final: Mirage Alert


I was inbound for landing at Reid‐Hillview airport and had a traffic alert off to my left, 300 feet higher and faster. About a minute after the traffic alert the tower told me I had traffic above and to the left of me. I replied that I did not have traffic in sight. Tower said, “It’s a Mirage.” I replied, “No wonder I can’t see them,” eliciting a chuckle out of the tower guy.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


    • Thanks, everyone. We’re always looking for Short Final submissions. Got a story to tell? You might make somone’s day.

  1. We are sorely lacking in humor these days and I also enjoy “Short Final”… keep ’em coming, Russ!

  2. The world is so full of crazy news I almost always go to the end of Avweb first to see if there is a ‘Short Final’ It makes the rest of my day better.

  3. Since we are reminiscing about Reid-Hillview airport, I have a funny true story from there.
    I learned to fly in the ’70s, when GA was booming and the airlines were hiring. RHV was one of the busiest airports in the country, due to all the hundreds of pilots training there.
    One evening, just before the tower closed at 2300, the patterns for both the left (unlighted) and right runways were full of airplanes.
    The tower controller announced ATC would be closing in one minute and added “Let’s see, we have three in right traffic, two for the left and two inbound from the South. Why couldn’t you guys take up bowling?”

    • We had an old timer at a “organization” I belong to who flew in WWII used to keep a variety of aircraft based at the old Butler aviation at KLGA. He would always start his “tales” with, “now this story has the added advantage of being true!”.

  4. Like the other posters, I look forward to “Short Final”, and get a good chuckle from it. I’m not a pilot, but have loved flying since I was taken up in a Stinson “Statin Wagon” at AVL, when I was five years old, and yes, that was a lifetime ago!

  5. Year ago this exchange took place with Heathrow Approach in London. Inbound aircraft were being stacked up in holding patterns at Lambourne VOR, a feeder fix for Heathrow. The controller had temporarily “misplaced” a British Airways flight, which was holding at FL 200.
    “Speedbird 254, what is your position in the hold at Lambourne?” Speedbird 254: “Just turning inbound at flight level 200.” “Roger, Speedbird, could you possibly cross Lambourne at 3000 inbound?” With no hesitation came the reply: “Speedbird 254, roger, I could probably make that, but I doubt if I could take my aircraft with me.”

  6. Years ago, when the Earth was flat and I had a waistline…

    Solo Army student on a helicopter navex, temporarily unsure of his position, called up Distress & Diversion for a ‘fix’. In the ensuing transmissions D&D asked for the name of the pilot. The response was ‘…er, there’s no pilot up here, only me.’

    Okay, so how often have YOU been airborne wishing there was a real pilot up there with you? Yup, me too!