Short Final: What I Mean


I was flying into David Wayne Hooks Airport, north of Houston. Hooks is a busy airport with business jets and constant flight training, both initial and advanced. Thus, the controllers there must be sharp and keep their sense of humor as they deal with both students and experienced pros in Gulfstreams.

I was on approach to Runway 17R with a stiff breeze out of the southwest. I laughed out loud when I heard:

Trainer 67: “Hooks Tower, Trainer 67. I’m, uh, 10 miles, uh west of the airport. I have Information Kilo and, uh, student pilot.”

Tower: “Trainer 67, make right traffic for Runway 35L.”

Trainer 67: “Okay, right traffic for Runway 35L.” Short pause, then, “Uh, Tower, um, how’s that gonna work?”

Tower, feigning an aggravated tone: “Trainer 67, you are cleared to do what I mean, not what I said. Make right traffic for Runway 17R.”

Trainer 67: “Okay, I can do that, as long as right traffic for Runway 17R is what you mean.”

Sal Cruz
Watsonville, California

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  1. Yea, it does get busy. and the good controllers do have a great sense of humor.
    It’s the new controllers that make you repeat the full “17” Left when you’re holding at Kilo (as if you could take off on any other runway from that intersection).

    • You always are required to readback the runway for any clearance. You might be in the wrong place, or the controller might think you’re somewhere else…

      • Nope. Holding short of THE LEFT at that intersection is a unique place on the airport (and precisely where I was cleared to by a ground controller). Sometimes the new guys in the tower can be dicks and that leads to people like me tying up tower freq with and intentional very slow and very complete full re-readback at a busy time. You wanna FULL and complete readback of every word a controller said then I can play student pilot and slowly and meticulously and arduously give it back in slow motion if that is “safety”.