On the Air: August 2021


We were flying in our Cessna Cardinal RG from Poughkeepsie, NY, to Norwood, MA. On board were my wife, me, and our cat, Amie. The weather was clear but windy. The local forecast for the Boston (Norwood) area was winds 30 blowing to 60 mph. Approaching Norwood, I tuned in the tower and checked in. There was nobody else except for the lady controller and me on the frequency. It had been a really bumpy flight. She cleared us miles out to land on Runway 28. Luckily the winds were just about out of that direction.

Normally I never joke with controllers but since nobody else was on the frequency, as we were turning from downwind to base I said, “Cardinal 1234 is making a One-Cat approach to Runway 28 and boy is she going to be happy to be down.”

The controller laughed at this and asked me about my flight conditions. I told her. Landing, I came in with more airspeed than normal and less flaps since it was so windy, and did my best to do a squeaker. We did. And the controller complimented our landing.

Brian Gately
Brooklyn, NY

I used to fly often out of Santa Monica airport and to this day fondly recall the extremely professional, capable and exceedingly helpful controllers there. When renewing my night currency it wasn’t uncommon for the tower to say, “Cleared to land, cleared to takeoff, cleared to land, cleared to takeoff, cleared to land, all taxi backs this frequency with me.” Does it get any better than that?

One evening some years ago, I had just landed and was taxiing to parking when I heard the following which reinforced my reverence for the patience of the folks in the tower:

Hawker: “Ground, Hawker 123T with readback. Cleared to Chicago, upon departure fly runway heading…..”

The Hawker completely massacred the read back.

Ground: “123T, that’s not quite right.”

The lengthy clearance instructions were then repeated. The Hawker’s readback was worse than the first attempt. This process repeated a few more times with the Hawker’s readback straying progressively further from the mark.

Finally Ground said, “123T, I get the feeling you’re not writing this down.”

I’m sure the Hawker pilot was very capable. Perhaps he was either just tired or very familiar with the route and expecting the clearance to be amended shortly after departure.

Andrew Borden
Camarillo, CA

With the easing of pandemic travel restrictions commercial flights have increased, seemingly often with crews not necessarily familiar with local procedures. Case in point: Delta 575, from Albany, NY, to Atlanta, departing Runway 19 on June 18th:

DL 575: “Albany Departure, Delta 575 climbing through 1500, runway heading.”

Albany Departure: “Delta 575, turn right heading 340, climb one zero, ten, thousand.”

DL 575 (now in a heavy southern drawl): “Albany, are you aware that Atlanta is south of here?”

Albany (without skipping a beat in an Upstate NY voice, though possibly just a bit more clipped than normal): “575, we have Center restrictions due to inbounds from Europe descending over the top to New York, an MVA of 10 to the south due to mountains, and Boston inbounds crossing from the west, so departures get an initial routing to the northwest before turning on course.” There was a pause, and then:

DL 575 (quietly, little inflection): “Ohhh, Okay.”

Daniel Spitzer
Montgomery, NY


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