Short Final: Toy Airplanes


It was a number of years ago, so it’s OK to tell the story now …

Chicago Approach was famous for a lack of tolerance for VFR pilots. One controller would say things like, “Flight Following? Yeah; here ya go: turn heading 270 and call back when you’re in Iowa. I don’t have any time for toy airplanes.”

That same controller did it to me when I was flying up Lake Shore Drive with my wife and a CFI friend. I called for flight following and he barked, “All VFR traffic: We don’t have time for flight following. Try center on 123.45.”

When local controllers came out to events like EAA meetings, they admitted that they knew the guy, and were glad when he retired a few years ago.

Jerry Ossowski

Bolingbrook, IL

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. It’s sort of funny now, but that kind of unprofessional behavior toward VFR aircraft should have gotten that controller reassigned or fired. I think most of us are pretty understanding when ATC is super busy and can’t handle any more aircraft, but having VFR aircraft talking to ATC enhances safety for everyone in the system, and should be encouraged, not discouraged. How many VFR pilots simply stop trying to use ATC services after being blown off like that a couple of times?

    I had an Oakland Center controller deny flight following services to me just this past weekend. I stayed on frequency and was surprised and pleased when, a few minutes later when things were calmer, she called out to see if I was still on frequency, as her workload now allowed her to take me on. That’s how things are supposed to work.

    I hope that pilot that got pointed toward Iowa finally got where he was going. 😉