Heard on the Glendale, Ariz., Tower frequency one Saturday morning:
Cessna 21KL: “Glendale Tower, Cessna Two One Kilo Lima, over I-10. I have information Juliet.”
Glendale Tower: “Cessna Two One Kilo Lima, I-10 runs all the way from California to Florida. Could you be a little more specific?”
Back when I was 17 and conventional landing gear was the norm, I went on a night flight over Atlanta in a Cessna 140. On a whim, I decided to make a touch-and-go landing at Atlanta Municipal—now known as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International. Radios were primitive back then. I called Atlanta Tower several times until I finally got a response:
Atlanta Tower: “Light plane northwest of Atlanta, I hear carrier but no modulation. If you would like to land at Atlanta, flash your position lights.”
I flashed my position lights.
Tower: “Light plane northwest of Atlanta, cleared to land, Runway 9.”
Atlanta runways then were about half the length they are now but even so were huge for a C-140. In spite of this, I used up about half the runway getting the little Cessna on the ground since I was trying to land and use the mic at the same time to explain I just wanted a touch and go.
Tower: “Light plane on Runway 9, left turn at the double blue lights, taxi to the ramp.”
I turned left at the double blues and stopped. At the same time, much to my dismay, the runway lights were turned off. Now I was in a real pickle. All I could think to do was sit there and frantically blink my position lights.
Tower (in a slightly tired voice): “Light plane on the taxiway, if you want to take off, blink your lights.”
I blinked frantically.
Tower (getting just a little testy): “Light plane on the taxiway, cleared for take off in either direction, and please depart the Airport Area.”
I didn’t go back to Atlanta as PIC until 53 years later in 2007. Things have changed quite a bit, but the controllers were just as nice as the last time.
At Ennis, Texas, an RV tail-dragger was coming out of the paint shop. The RV pilot called the pilot of the Cessna 150 that had brought him in to pick up the RV:
RV: “My right main gear brake isn’t working. When we get home, I’ll only be able to make left turns, but I should be able to make it OK.”
Unknown voice: “How is that going to sound at the hearing?”
RV (after a pause): “I’m going to pull into the FBO and get this brake fixed.”
Unknown voice: “Good thinking.”
Things are a bit more laid back with customs in some of the smaller countries. I heard this conversation between a U.S. aircraft and Beef Island Tower on Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
N92884: “Beef Tower, what is the custom’s procedure here?”
Beef Tower (in an island lilt): “Well, you come in, fill out some papers and go on vacation. When you’re done, you fill out some more papers and go home.”
Park City, Utah
After a three-hour trip in our Baron from Georgia, we started our descent to Gary Airport in Indiana. The flight had been smooth but as we descended through 6000, we started shaking and baking. As we flew over Lake Michigan to position for a night landing onto Runway 20, the turbulence became even worse. After landing, I volunteered a “PIREP” to Tower:
Me: “Boy, that was like wrestling an alligator.”
Gary Tower: “Never wrestled an alligator; must be tough.”
Me: “Yeah, it seems that way.”
A minute later, another Baron making the same approach called Gary Tower:
Baron 575W: “Gary Tower, Baron Five Seven Five Whiskey. Inbound Runway 20.”
Tower: “Baron Five Seven Five Whiskey, cleared to land Runway 20. Wind 220 at 15 gusting 25.”
Baron 575W: “Gary, Five Seven Five Whiskey, can you give me a flight report from the other Baron that just came in?”
Tower: “Baron Five Seven Five Whiskey, do you know what it’s like to wrestle an alligator?”
Baron 575W (perplexed): “Negative, Gary.”
Tower: “Well, it looks like you’re about to find out.”
Victor L. Maruri
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