On The Air: February 2018


I was on an IFR arrival into Houston a while ago with busy Approach Control, when I heard the following exchange:

Approach Control: “N1234 say altitude.”

N1234: “Altitude.”

Approach without hesitation and very patiently: “N1234 say the altitude you are flying.”

N1234: “Oh, 5500 feet.”

Approach: “Thank you. Altimeter 29.93.”

Mark Robertson
Alvin, TX

I plagiarized this from a pilot’s group on Facebook. Everything seems to happen in Texas!

Inbound airplane: “Austin Tower, United 1984 inbound with Whiskey.”

Unidentified voice: “Sigh, I wish!”

John Templeton
Washington, UT

Back in the days when Pueblo, Colorado, still had a TRACAB (terminal radar in the tower cab), I was visiting with the controllers when the following took place.

A Cessna pilot, who hopefully was a student, was on a flight from Colorado Springs, field elevation of 6172 feet MSL, to Pueblo, elevation 4725 feet MSL. After being handed off from Colorado Springs Departure to Pueblo Approach, the Pueblo controller made contact with the Cessna but was not receiving the mode C readout. The transmissions that took place went something like this:

Approach: “Cessna 567, squawk altitude.”

Cessna 567: “Roger.”

After a short pause…

Approach: “Cessna 567, do you need assistance?”

Cessna 567: “No, sir.”

Approach: “Cessna 567, do you need emergency equipment standing by?”

Cessna 567: “No sir.”

Approach: “Cessna 567, what is the nature of your emergency?”

Cessna 567: “No emergency, sir. Just heading to Pueblo for touch and goes.”

Approach: “Roger, Cessna 567, please squawk 1200.”

Aircraft from Colorado Springs to Pueblo quite often fly at 7500 MSL. Any guesses as to what code the pilot had entered in his transponder when asked to “squawk altitude”?

When reality struck, everyone in the tower was doubled over for quite a while.

Alan R. von Ahlefeldt
Parker, CO

I was flying southbound in the Los Angeles basin in mid-July, 2017 when I heard a VFR pilot trying to get a shortcut through the Los Angeles Class Bravo airspace.

SoCal: “NXXXXX how do you plan to navigate the LA Bravo airspace?”

Pilot: “SoCal I’d like to go through the Bravo, LAX direct Brown Field.”

SoCal: “NXXXXX are you familiar with the VFR transitions through the Bravo airspace?”

Pilot: “Yes, but I’d like LAX direct Brown.”

SoCal: “NXXXXX there are multiple ways through the LAX Bravo but LAX direct Brown is not one of them.”

A few minutes later, I heard the same pilot in San Diego asking for a direct transition through Bravo to Brown Field. They asked if he was familiar with the VFR transitions and he replied yes but he didn’t have any of the information with him. They gave him routing direct.

Juergen Stark
San Diego, CA

On a recent flight home, we were cruising along at 7000 feet in good weather, except for the occasional encounter with the very top of a cumulus cloud. Knowing my wife is not a fan of any amount of turbulence, I asked ATC for a climb to 9000. ATC replied, “That’s approved. What’s the reason for the altitude change? I had another guy at 7000 who asked to descend, but didn’t say why.”

I explained that we were just at the tops of the clouds and wanted to climb to get out of the bumps. A few minutes later, another pilot came on frequency requesting to descend to 7000. ATC advised him, “Several other pilots have asked to leave that altitude due to turbulence.”

The other pilot replied, “I heard them, but we’re bored and want to see what all the fuss is about.”

I can only assume he was not flying with his turbulence-averse significant other.

Steven Walter
Lexington, KY

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