Short Final: Thanks For Sharing


I was flying home to Oakland, talking to Travis Approach when they called traffic at 10 o’clock, three miles, converging, same altitude unverified.

I noted the N number from ADS‑B, and did a quick look up on “N‑Numbers” on my phone. I use Post River Software, which contains the entire FAA database within the app.

I saw that it was a 172, based at Napa 20 miles to the northwest, so most likely headed home, and not likely to start his descent just yet…

Me: “Travis, Cardinal 7SD, we’ll descend to 4000 to get under that converging 172. It looks like he’s headed to Napa.”

Travis Approach: “Cardinal 7SD, can you tell all that just from ADS‑B?”

Me: “Travis, I can see it is a 172 based at Napa, so I surmise he’s headed home just before sunset. But oh yeah, it also tells me his T‑shirt size is large.”

There was about five seconds of silence on frequency. When Travis keyed up, he was still laughing.

Travis Approach: “7SD, VFR descent your discretion. And thanks for sharing.”

Paul Millner

Oakland, CA

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  1. I don’t mean to criticize, but if I received a traffic alert from Travis (or any other controller) I would be looking hard out the windscreen, not at my mobile phone. Technology is great, but common sense should dictate when and how it is used.
    Doug Morey

    • Doug M, my thoughts exactly. Converging traffic three miles away means it’s time to be a pilot, not a tech nerd.

  2. This is exactly the sort of personal data exposure that had kept me from installing ADS-B/out. Yes, it’s inconvenient to circumnavigate, or ADAPT my way through, controlled airspace. But that what I’ll do until the FAA implements a workable “anonymous mode” for us little guys. There is absolutely no reason why another aircraft needs to know where I am going or my tail number, and with that, my name, home address, and no doubt eventually, shirt size.

    If the Federal Highway Administration implemented such a surveillance system for our cars, can you imagine the holy hell they would get?

  3. Totally agree with Doug M. Say you had a closure rate of 200kts between the aircraft, which would be pretty reasonable for a 172 and a Cardinal. That would give you about 47 seconds to take any corrective action. I was taught deviate to the right and if need be an altitude permits, dive. You can take time to play detective later if you survive the collision.

  4. I think you guys are missing the point. I fly out of the Nut Tree everyday. There is a lot of traffic in the area and it is difficult to see them all. I have the iPad attach to a Ram Mount and I’m using a Stratus type receiver to get ADS-b in. I monitor Travis Approach and look for traffic all the time, but three to five mile out it’s very difficult to see a small plane. ADS-b helps. Coupe of day ago I was holding at CEVIT at 3000′ when a Mooney came out of nowhere climbing towards us. The iPad gave us an alert and we turned away and down from the converging airplane. Travis didn’t see the plane and didn’t call the traffic. I will not fly without the iPad and ADS-b. I encourage all pilots to embrace this technology. It could save your life. As for the FAA tracking you. You are being followed right now if you have a smart phone! Fly save!

    • Respectfully, I think you are missing our point. I fly a King Air with four GPS’s that each display traffic, ADS-b in/out, aural traffic alerts over the headsets, etc. I already embrace technology. But when I get a converging traffic warning, same altitude, I don’t “do a quick look up on “N‑Numbers” on my phone.” I look might do a swift glance at the screen, and then look out the friggin window.