On The Air: August 2012


Kennedy Ground (Local) is always entertaining to me, with New Yorker attitude and accent from the controllers crossed with the culture and accent of the foreign carriers. Eastern European and Asian carriers are often the most entertaining—make that schadenfreude—including this one:
Ground: “Malev Sixty-Seven, what’s your gate tonight?”
Malev 67: (Ten seconds of barely intelligible faking of a response.)
Ground (after a pause): “Malev Sixty-Seven, my earlier transmission was a queeeesssstion …”

Rick Sanders
San Francisco, Calif.

The Colonial golf tournament and CBS’s television coverage of it impacted a Memorial Day weekend departure from Ft. Worth/Meacham for me. About 20 seconds after rotation, the following occurred:
Meacham Tower: “Diamond One Five Six Papa Sierra, stay with me. Traffic 10 o’clock, appears to be a banner tow. Additional traffic two o’clock, 2000 feet, call sign says ‘Snoopy.’ “
Me: “Diamond Six Papa Sierra has both the Geico banner towing ship and the Met Life blimp in sight.”
Tower: “Maintain visual separation from the, uh, traffic. Contact Departure 135.97.”

Steve Ravel
Austin, Texas

I had flown my Cessna 421 in from the U.K. to Florida and thought I had my ear tuned to U.S. machine-gun clearances. Key West was in good form rattling off what I heard as, “Route,” (pause for breath) “Route” and then half a dozen airways and intersections. I spat it and was pleased to hear, “Readback correct, except for the initial route.” This made no sense, and my “Say again?” produced an ATC response of “The route starts with route.” It finally dawned on me that my route started with ROOTE. Of course, ROOTE wasn’t on the chart to provide a clue.

Jim Thorpe
Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, U.K.

I’m the lucky owner of a restored Extra 300 aerobatic airplane. It’s registered experimental/exhibition and, as is often true with these airplanes, the registration ends with the letters “EX.” The resulting call sign is a bit of a tongue-twister. Recently I called Ground in Nashua, N.H., for a taxi clearance. The controller is a friend of mine:
Me: “Experimental Extra One Zero Two Echo X-ray at Air Direct, taxi, with Hotel.”
Nashua Ground: “That’s just too long.” (No clearance was given.)
Me: “OK, but can I taxi?”
Ground: “One Zero Two Echo X-ray, taxi Runway 32 via Echo and Alpha.”
Ground: “You need a tactical call sign for that.”
Me: “That sounds cool.”
Ground: “No, you won’t like what I make up, it won’t be nice!”
He hasn’t given me a new call sign yet and I’m not pushing the issue.

Farrell Woods
Hudson, N.H.

I usually fly helicopters, but was out in a fixed-wing this day. I guess Baltimore Tower knows my voice better than I thought—more than my call sign:
Me: “Baltimore Tower, Skylane Two Five Niner on the visual 33 Right.”
Baltimore Tower: “Two Five Niner, cleared to land Signature Aviation helipad.”
Me: “Uh, Baltimore Tower, We’re on the visual 33 Right.”
Tower: “Affirmative. Cleared to land Signature Aviation helipad.”
Me: “Uh, Tower, we’re an airplane.”
Tower: “Oh. In that case, cleared to land 33 Right.”
Me: “Cleared to land 33 Right. We were working on our short-fields, but the helipad might be a little tight.”

Robert Schapiro
Columbia, Md.

Overheard while departing Portland, Maine, which is about 150 miles north of where the Pilgrims landed:
Hawker 229: “Portland Approach, Hawker Two Seven Two Two Niner, 7000 on vectors for the visual 11.”
Portland Approach: “Hawker Two Two Niner. Fly heading 330.”
Hawker 229: “Heading 330, and do you have time for a question?”
Approach: “Sure, go ahead.”
Hawker 229: “Isn’t Plymouth Rock around here somewhere?”
Approach: “Whoa, man. You failed history. It’s way down in Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is Maine.”
Hawker 229: “Yeah, I did fail history. But I passed third grade with honors.”

Baxter and Charlie Van West
Portland, Maine


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