On The Air: November 2020


Some years back at Bradley International Airport, there was a local air taxi company that did a lot of their new pilot training on the mid shift. They would go round and round the same ILS pattern for hours apparently swapping seats as the flight went on.

Often, as the controller on duty, I would issue the same clearance over and over: “Trainer 23, turn left heading 270. Maintain 2500 until established. Cleared ILS 24 approach.”

The equally bored instructor got the prize for the briefest readback on record: “27, 25, 24, 23.”

John Krug – East Falmouth, MA


While flying from San Jose International airport to Portland International airport we heard the following:

Oakland Center: “Delta 123, cleared to descend pilot’s discretion to 240.”

Delta 123: “Delta 123 descending to 240, and we’ll do it discreetly.”

Daniel Sternbergh – San Jose, CA


COVID-19 has produced some interesting opportunities. Being located in the Lost Angeles area, we are used to seeing a lot of traffic into LAX. Given the dramatic drop in commercial traffic, it has given GA fliers opportunities they would never get otherwise. 

After having previously been denied permission to do a low pass on 25L at LAX in my Piper Saratoga, I decided to have another try.

In April, I was returning from a sightseeing flight down the coast to our home base in Torrance, California on flight following. Along the coast in the John Wayne Orange County Airport airspace, I decided to ask for an IFR clearance to land at LAX, which was promptly given. Over the LA Harbor, which is well outside the normal traffic pattern, SoCal approach called to say I was number 1 to land on 25L.

Shocked, I followed vectors to line up for the runway. On a long left base, the tower called to let me know there was traffic ahead at my 12 o’clock—a 787 Dreamliner—landing on the north runway complex, the only other traffic in the pattern. After the call to turn final, I was cleared to land, instructed to maintain visual separation from the Dreamliner, and cleared to land Runway 25L. Caution wake turbulence.

It was an unbelievable site to be lined up on the 10,000 foot runway with the sparkling Pacific Ocean in the background on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

I have since been back twice to land at LAX on 25L Once I was taxiing back to take off on 25R and the ground controller radioed the 737 behind me on the taxiway to make sure they saw my tiny Saratoga. 

Crazy times!

Sean Armstrong – Palos Verdes, CA


Recently, we were on a flight from Boston to Teterboro, in our Phenom 300, nearing our approach to Teterboro. The frequency was busy, as New York Approach had combined Newark operations and Teterboro operations on one frequency. We were called by Approach:

New York Approach: “Phenom 8EJ, descend and maintain 4000, … (unreadable) UNVIL.”

UNVIL is our initial approach fix into Teterboro. Neither I nor my wife who was flying in the right seat could tell if the controller said “expect UNVIL” or “direct UNVIL” so we had to ask.

The New York Approach controller came back in his thickest New York accent, “Phenom 8EJ, if you would get yourselves pointed toward UNVIL right this second, it would be just peachy.” 

Phil Fernandez – Palo Alto, CA


A bit of nostalgia: Do you know how many stooges of the Three Stooges fame there were?

You can find CURLI (Curly Howard) on an intersection on the LOC RWY 35 approach to Norwood Memorial airport near Boston on a NoPT leg from Providence, Rhode Island VOR.

Adding to nostalgia, as you proceed further along on the LOC, there is one of the few remaining Outer Markers that also has a co-located NDB (Locator Outer Marker—LOM) identified as STOGE (Morse Code OW) which also acts as an IAF.

No idea what happened to the other five of the six Three Stooges. Yes the other stooges were Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser, and Curly-Joe DeRita. 

Luca Bencini-Tibo – Weston, FL

Please send us your cleverest or most embarrassing moment on the radio—or your favorite fix names or airport names—with a subject of “OTA,” to [email protected]. Be sure to include your full name and location.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here