On the Air: January 2023


One day when flying from Iqaluit, Canada (CYFB) to Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan (KANJ) at Flight Level 360 we heard the following exchange on Guard, 121.5:

“Bonjour Montreal, C1243, Flight Level 290.”

Someone came back and said, “You’re on guard.”

Quickly, the other pilot said, “Well, you are on Guard.”

And the other pilot responded just as quickly, “Well, I am the guard of Guard.”

Guess that’s Canadian humor. We chuckled all the way home!

Sven Pole
Truckee, California

We have the privilege of the 114th AF Fighter Wing of F-16’s stationed at Joe Foss Field, South Dakota (KFSD). It’s a regional airport without loads of traffic, so I am able to get flight following as I crawl along in my Cessna 140. I heard the following transmission while I was on a flight:

Hound 1: “Hound 1, trail 2 practice approach to 31.”

Tower: “Hound 1, trail 2 request granted.”

A little later…

Citation 84T: “Foss Field Tower, Citations 84 tango, visual approach 31.”

Tower: “Citation 84 tango, reduce speed. You have an 80 knot overtake.”

Citation 84T (audible disbelief): “That’s a first…”

Tower: “I’m going to have you do a 360 for spacing.”

Citation 84T: “We’re getting it slowed down!”

Tower: “It’s going to be too tight. I need you to do a 360, right or left your choice.”

Citation 84T: “Okay. Making it happen.”

Bob Lacey
Yankton, South Dakota

I was monitoring the tower frequency at a Kentucky class D one morning and overheard the following dialogue:

Helicopter 1234: “Tower, helicopter 1234 at helicopter parking base of tower. Present position departure northbound VFR.”

Tower: “Helicopter 1234 cleared as requested.”

Helicopter 1234: “Helicopter 1234 lifting.”

Tower: “Helicopter 1234, where are you located.”

Helicopter 1234 (in the southern Kentucky drawl): “Helicopter 1234 at helicopter parking base of the tower, Can’t you see out them windows up there?”

Tower responded with laughter.

Brett Sullivan
Salem, Illinois

A few years ago, and before our jets were capable of long-range navigation, I routinely flew one of our flights from St. Louis Lambert International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. Late in the evening it was not uncommon to ask the Kansas City center for vectors to the Hector VOR (a common feeder fix into the Los Angeles basin). So the conversation would go something like this:

“Kansa City center, Airliner 234 requesting vectors to Hector, if you’re able.”

“Airliner234, Kansas City center, standby a minute while I coordinate that with the Hector Sector Vector Director.”

An example of an alliteration tongue twister indeed.

John Wittenborn

Olathe, Kansas

Passing through New York’s airspace this summer, we heard the following:

New York Approach: “Airliner 123 descend maintain 5000.”

Airliner 123: “Descend 5000.”

New York Approach two minutes later: “Airliner 123 descend maintain 5000, you appear to be climbing.”

Airliner 123: “We are descending.”

New York Approach: “Well you appear to be descending up, I need you to descend down. You were at 5200 now you are at 5600. Check your instruments and descend the other way.”

Airliner 123 meekly: “Descending 5000.”

Joe Shandlay
Doylestown, Pennsylvania

This is not technically “on the air,” but I saw this vanity license plate while driving across the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge: “0FT AGL.”

William Cole
San Francisco, California

The low-OTA warning has only been flickering for a bit, but it’s on bright again. Please 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.


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