Classic ON THE AIR: December 2012


A Learjet was waiting for a clearance prior to engine start. The Ground Controller couldn’t help but ask a question.
Ground: “Lear Five Five Quebec, Is that thing as fast as she looks?”
Lear 55Q (male voice): “She sure is.”
Lear 55Q (female pilot’s voice): “And the plane is pretty nice, too.”

Charles P. Gendrich
Lansing, MI

Tower controllers get tired, too. One day, at the end of a long, busy morning shift, I let the following happen:
Tomahawk 818: “Yuma Tower, Tomahawk Two Five Eight One Eight is ready to go, southerly departure.”
Me: “Tomahawk Two Five Eight One Eight, Yuma Tower, wind calm, clear for takeoff Runway Eight.”
After he departed, I told him: “Eight One Eight, southerly departure approved.” I then meant to say maintain 1,200 feet and report five miles south, but what came out was: “… maintain twelve hundred miles and report five feet south.”
Tomahawk 818: “I’ll give it my best shot, sir.”

Neal McGurrell
Kaneohe, HI

One night approaching PBI, flying south along the coast, I heard this:
PBI Approach: “Cessna Four Niner Four Zero Hotel, traffic three miles, eleven o’clock, westbound, type and altitude unknown.”
Cessna 4940H: “Looking.”
PBI Approach: “Cessna Four Zero Hotel, that traffic is slow moving. It may be a ship entering the harbor.”
Cessna 4940H: “Affirmative, there is a ship out there.”
PBI Approach: “Four Niner Four Zero Hotel, caution wake turbulence. Contact tower on 119.1.”

Mark Gillman

A student pilot was on a night cross-country in the ATL area in a Cessna.
Cessna 4686Y: “Peachtree Tower, Cessna Four Six Eight Six Yankee, turn on the runway lights now please.”
Peachtree Tower: “Cessna Eight Six Yankee, the runway lights are on.”
Cessna 4686Y: “Well could you turn them up please?”
Peachtree Tower: “Sir, the runway lights are up.”
Cessna 4686Y (in a very meek voice): “Peachtree Tower, Cessna Eight Six Yankee. Could you turn off the city lights, please?”


On Clearance Delivery at Phoenix Sky Harbor, we heard an aircraft in the process of receiving a rather long and convoluted clearance, delivered in the usual staccato manner of a busy controller. There was a pause before the stunned pilot acknowledged the transmission.
Pilot (with a deep, slow Texas drawl): “Do y’all heah…how…ahm…a-talkin’?”
Clearance Delivery: “Affirmative.”
Pilot: “Wayell…that’s…how…ah…listen. Y’all can do that fast a bunch more, or jest once, NAHce ‘n slow. Oh-VER.”

Peter Wurtz
Scottsdale, AZ

Overheard between Richmond and Raleigh-Durham in bad weather:
Center: “Lear Two Zero Uniform, cleared to deviate as requested. Ah, Citation Five One One Bravo Echo, how does that cell off to your right look?”
Citation 511BE: “Well….I wouldn’t mind sending my mother-in-law over there, but I’m not goin’ near it.”

Don Crouse
Baltimore, MD

Many years ago, when the Cessna 210 first received certification for underwing radar, the following exchange was overheard at a high-density East Coast airport:
Cessna 57MK: “Ground, Centurion Five Seven Mike Kilo ready to taxi, we’re IFR to Buffalo.”
Ground Control: “Roger, Centurion Five Seven Mike Kilo, taxi to runway one six. Stand-by for your clearance. By the way, what’s that pod under your right wing, some kind of fuel tank?”
Cessna 57MK: “Negative, sir, it’s a neutron bomb.”
Ground Control: “Roger, Centurion Five Seven Mike Kilo. Cleared direct to Tehran, no need to acknowledge further transmissions….”

R. C. Allen
New York


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