On The Air: January 2020


I am both a pilot and a sailor. Not so long ago at an FBO, when signing in, they asked for instructions. Since I’d only used fuel from one tank my instructions were “top off the port tank.”

When I came back I noticed that the tank was still half empty. I asked the FBO line guy what the deal was.

He said, “Sorry, sir, we couldn’t find your portable tank.”

True story. I no longer try to mix sailing and flying terms that much.

Brian Gately
Brooklyn, NY

I finally figured out why Camp David, MD about 50 nm NW of Washington DC, is not a choice weekend GATHRing destination. On V39-143, between Martinsburg, WV VOR, (MRB) and Lancaster Lancaster, PA VOR, (LRP), very near P-40 and R-4009 lies in wait with a watchful eye: ROBRT MULRR. Someone must have a sense of humor!

Luca Bencini-Tibo
Weston, FL

This past June we were returning from Canada to Colorado in mid-afternoon IFR in our PA 32. The typical afternoon thunderstorms were in full swing. As we progressed homeward just east of a several hundred mile long line of Cumulonimbus buildups we heard Salt Lake Center clearing departing flights up to FL 260. Nothing higher. All requests for higher were denied with the same explanation—all the available (what there was of it because of the weather) airspace above FL 260 was already saturated with traffic. The controller was juggling airplanes as best as he could.

Then came the icing on the cake. “Delta XYZ, stop right where you are. Holding legs and direction at your discretion. I’ll get back to you in 20 to 30 minutes!”

The Big Sky Country gets smaller when the thunderstorms proliferate, and they were proliferating.

Alan R. von Ahlefeldt
Parker, CO

A few years ago we were landing at Philadelphia International Airport. Approach cleared us “to land on Runway 9, fly your downwind leg at 3001 feet, hold short Runway 18.”

I responded ,”understand cleared to land Runway 9 and hold short 18, but why maintain 3001?”

The Approach Controller came back with, “Look to your right. I’ve got 7 airliners descending underneath you at 2000 feet to land on 18, and I need 1000 feet between you.”

Harry W. Lerch
Palm City, FL

Air Traffic Controllers can be very diplomatic in nudging us toward use of proper phraseology. I overheard this recently transiting NorCal airspace:

Controller: “Coast Guard 123, traffic 11 o’clock, westbound, altitude indicates 3500 feet.”

Coast Guard 123: “NorCal, Coast Guard 123, we have eyeballs on traffic.”


Controller: “Sorry, Coast Guard 123, I missed that. Did you say you have traffic in sight?”

Coast Guard 123: “Uh, affirmative NorCal, Coast Guard 123 has traffic in sight.”

Controller: “Copy that, thank you Coast Guard 123.”

William A. Cole
Petaluma CA

I recently heard this exchange between ATC and a Southwest flight.

SWA: “Any shortcuts today would be appreciated.”

ATC: “Unless you want a personal escort by the US Air Force, I will be unable.”

Stephen P. Bobko-Hillenaar
Alpine, WY

Check out the Pirep in the attached image, above.

Ken Fullett
Naperville, IL

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.


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