Short Final: Name Change


Many years ago I was flying my Cessna 182 from the San Francisco Bay Area east toward Columbia (O22) in the foothills of the Sierra range. This was right at the time all the various Northern and Central California approach controls were united in a single facility as they are now, all using the name “NorCal.”

I was on VFR flight following and was handed off by TRACON to the next sector, so I made my radio call to what I understood was the then-named Sierra Approach, previously known as Stockton Approach.

“Sierra Approach, N12345 level at 5500.”

They replied “N12345 radar contact, this is now NorCal Approach. New name, same great service.”

Chris Toeppen
Palo Alto, California

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  1. I’m sure that ATC has heard it all and said it all but here is an example I enjoyed:

    Years ago flying over the Chicago area at FL350 in a Falcon, the center controller came on with “Falcon XXX turn right 20 degrees for Noise Abatement.” While in the turn and reading back the heading change, I queried “Noise Abatement? We’re at 350! The controller quickly came back with, “I’m guessing that you’ve never heard a Falcon and a 737 come together.”

  2. We went through a few boring “Short Finals,” but this one made up for the cold spell…thanks “NorCal Appch.” By the way, as a SoCal pilot; how does the new name NorCal relate to being in Northern California?

    • You’re implying that everything the FAA does makes sense. As someone who worked for them for 31 years, let me gently dispel that notion right here and now.