On the Air April 2016


At San Diego we were in line for takeoff behind a British Airways (“Speedbird”) 777.

Tower: “Speedbird 123, cleared for immediate takeoff, Runway 27. There is fast-moving traffic on a five-mile final behind you.”

Speedbird 123: “Roger, cleared for takeoff, Runway 27.”

At this point the “fast moving traffic,” Southwest 321, checked in and was cleared to land.

(Just a few seconds later) Tower: “Speedbird, keep it rolling, no delay, fast moving traffic on a 3 mile final.”

Speedbird 123: “Roger.”

Speedbird made their takeoff just fine and was switched to departure. At this point Southwest chimed in: “Hey Tower, Southwest 321 was at final approach speed that whole time.”

Tower: “I know, Southwest. Your speed was fine. I was just trying to light a fire under Speedbird’s butt.”

Rick Sanders
San Francisco, CA

I flew my P210 one Saturday morning as I do every Saturday while Leslie, my wife, was relaxing at home. Her quiet time was suddenly interrupted by a text message:

“Coming down hard with high winds. Power out and generator on! Already about 15 inches and that’s the beginning!”

She thought that I was text messaging her from my soon-to-crash plane. Her panic wasn’t helped by recalling an incident a few years ago when we took off with a fully loaded airplane into low IMC and lost our turbo controller. Of course we didn’t know what was causing the power loss until we were on the ground, but the manifold pressure did stabilize at exactly 15 inches.

It took her an anxious few minutes to realize that the text message was from my sister describing the on-going huge snow storm taking place at her New Jersey home.

Needless to say, “Text message wife” is not high on my emergency checklists.

Ken Gross
San Diego, CA

Recently a vocally nervous IFR student was cleared for takeoff in front of me. Soon the tower controller handed him off to Departure.

Tower: “N12345, contact Departure on 124.3.”

N12345: “N12345, 124.3.”

A full minute passes. N12345: “SoCal Departure, N12345, 1000 climbing to 3000.”

Tower: (using his gentle, patient teaching voice) “flip/flop…flip/flop…flip/flop.”

Alan Harkins
Torrance, CA

I was flying out to East Texas on a recent Friday morning in a rented Skyhawk to attend a memorial service for a co-worker’s daughter who died in a freak head-on automobile collision earlier in the week. The intervening four days had been full of discussions about fate, karma, good luck and bad. Upon requesting my IFR clearance, I was provided the following:

Addison Ground: “Cessna 5253Q, cleared to the Gilmer Municipal Airport. After departure, turn left heading 050, radar vectors to the Quitman VOR, then as filed. Climb and maintain 2000, expect 7000 one-zero minutes after departure. Departure frequency 124.3, squawk 5253.”

I dutifully read back the clearance and, upon seeing the squawk code I got, perked up a bit, and asked:

N5253Q: “Did you do that on purpose?”

Addison Ground: “Never in a million years …”

Feeling uncharacteristically lucky, I bought a ticket for the following day’s Lotto Texas drawing—didn’t match a single number drawn.

Terry Gaus,
Garland, TX

I was flying on V442 at 9000 feet approaching APLES intersection. The next leg towards Hector has an MEA of 10000 feet and a MOCA of 8300 feet. I am a 182/G. The following radio exchange took place:

Approach: “Skylane 735JK climb and maintain 11,000.”

Me: “5JK, why?”

There is about a 10 second hesitation followed by:

Approach: “Because I misread the chart. 5JK maintain 9000.”

Me: “5JK maintaining 9000.”

Ed Mashman
Hawthorne, CA

We’re still running out. Don’t make us use any reruns. 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.


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