While on a night freight flight to El Paso descending in the early morning, the sleepy controllers were working the only aircraft in the area—me.
Approach: “N1234, traffic at 12 o’clock and 10 miles. Could be an aircraft or a truck driving up the mountain.”
Me: “I am impressed you can see a truck on your radar. No one can sneak up on you.”
Approach: “Well at least not in trucks.”
Johns Creek, GA
A friend of mine has an 18-month-old young son, who is quite curious about all kinds of vehicles. I offered to take him and his mom flying in my Bonanza, which I keep at Burbank Airport in Southern California.
Even though we had installed his car seat in the airplane with his mom sitting beside him, and wearing kid-sized aviation headphones, he exhibited some trepidation when the engine started. The rest of it went like this:
Bonanza: “Burbank Tower, Bonanza 1236D, ready for takeoff, VFR, Runway 8.”
Tower: “Bonanza 1236D. Cleared for takeoff, Runway 8.”
After an uneventful takeoff, we turned north on the standard VFR departure procedure, for a local sightseeing flight. As we were climbing away from the airport, the young boy became quite upset, pulled off the headphones, and began yelling and protesting to his mom. We decided that he wasn’t happy with any of this, and we should return to the airport.
Bonanza: “Burbank Tower, Bonanza 1236D would like to return to the airport, Runway 15.”
Tower: “Bonanza 36D, Burbank Tower, right turn approved, cleared to land, Runway 15. Do you need assistance?” (Inferred meaning: “Should we roll out the crash trucks?”)
Bonanza: “Burbank Tower, Bonanza 36D, no… our 18-month-old passenger on his first flight, decided he doesn’t like flying.”
Tower: Chuckling, “Bonanza 36D, he will soon enough. Direct the numbers, cleared to land Runway 15.”
Los Angeles, CA
Many years ago I was enroute from Georgia to Texas in my company Cardinal. There was a nasty squall line stretching from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to the Great Lakes as I approached Jackson, Mississippi after sunset.
There was a buzz of aircraft on frequency all looking for a hole through the line. I was headed right at the line at only 6000 feet, and Center asked me what my intentions were. I responded that my Stormscope indicated a smooth ride on my flight plan route—remember, these Stornscopes detect static discharges, not precipitation. Fully trusting this new instrument (I was employed by Ryan, the original Stormscope developer.) I pressed on right through the squall line.
The rain was deafening so I’m sure that it looked pretty scary on radar. As I exited the line, Center asked how my ride was. I responded that other than the pounding rain, it was a smooth ride. I wasn’t prepared for what followed as center broadcast that information to flight after flight.
I was sure every airplane in the world was being vectored right at me to get through that smooth but wet hole I had just traversed. It felt like I’d upset a hornets nest and was running as fast as possible to get away. Those poor controllers were pretty helpless to assist air traffic that night, so I’m sure my pilot report was really welcome as it offered at least an option to all the other traffic in the area.
North Platte, NE
In my student pilot days when I actually phoned a briefer for my weather briefings, I had the following exchange.
The weather was severe clear CAVU. I rattled off my litany of information and a request for a Standard Briefing as I was instructed by my CFI.
The briefer came back, “You don’t need a standard NOTHIN’!”
At Wittman Regional airport in Oshkosh, the ILS and NDB RWY 36 LOM/IAF “POBER” is named in honor of EAA founder, Paul Poberezny.
Luca F. Bencini-Tibo
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 IFR@BelvoirPubs.com. Be sure to include your full name and location.