On The Air: July 2015


Many years ago I was riding in the jumpseat on a Southwest Boeing 737 from Las Vegas to Burbank. The crew was looking for a shortcut to get relief from our elaborate routing. The best routing was to the HEC (Hector) VORTAC. The crew called:

737: “SoCal Approach, any chance of direct HECTOR?”

Approach: “Southwest 123, let me check with the Vector to Hector Sector Director.”

737: “Roger.”

Actually we were laughing so hard the captain had a hard time talking.

Approach: “Southwest 123, the Vector to Hector Sector Director says you can go Direct Hector.”

I love aviation and all the people who work in it that make it fun.

Bill Banks
Pittsburgh, PA

We were flying the Airbus into Phoenix from the west. Normally when they’re landing east, we’d be assigned Runway 7R, on the south side of the airport. This day, however, we didn’t want to deal with the taxi to the north side where we were parking, so we wanted Runway 8, on the north side.

As is common for Phoenix, it was a clear day and we were anticipating a visual approach to 7R. Typically, either the pilot will volunteer that the runway is in sight or the controller will ask. The captain told me to wait until they asked and even told me what to say.

Phoenix Approach: “Report airport in sight, two o’clock, 10 miles. Plan visual approach Runway 7R.”

Me: “Roger. We have Runway 8 in sight, but we can’t see Runway 7R—it’s obscured by a profound lack of enthusiasm.”

Approach (chuckling): “OK, I can do that. Fly present heading. Intercept the Runway 8 localizer. Expect Runway 8.”

Me: “SahWEET!”

Sal Cruz
Watsonville, CA

Particularly interesting in the Boston Harbor area is the Logan International Light Visual Runway 33L approach, where you can find: MYNOT (Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse), LYHTT (Boston Lighthouse) and WORRN (Fort Warren).

Luca F. Bencini-Tibo
Weston, FL

Several years ago I was on an IFR flight enroute from Indianapolis to a towered airport in Ohio when Indianapolis Center said that they needed me to make a 90-degree turn to the north. They said they needed that until Cleveland Center could accept me.

I noticed on the enroute chart that there was the familiar postage stamp line indicating the hand-off point between Indianapolis center and Cleveland Center so I guessed that maybe the Cleveland-Center controller was busy or delayed.

I flew perpendicular to my desired route, staying out of Cleveland Center’s turf and waiting until they were ready for me. After what seemed like a very long time wandering far north of my desired path I called Indianapolis Center to ask for a turn back on course and they gave me a frequency on which to contact Cleveland center.

When I contacted Cleveland Center the controller strangely asked for my position and intentions, then requested that I report when final for my assigned runway. All seemed mostly normal. After landing I got a terse call from the tower, “Bonanza 17V is that you on the ground? You were not cleared to land!”

I summoned my most contrite attitude and apologized in the most professional tone I could come up with, but the tongue lashing continued followed by, “17V, after you shut down, and without delay, call the tower immediately on a ground line.”

On the phone his tone was no better. I was sure I was going to be written up but then the tower controller asked if I was IFR or VFR. As I replied that I was IFR the long silence made me realize that my angry controller might be in trouble as well.

The tone of the call changed abruptly from admonishing to increasingly pleasant and conciliatory. I realized that any write up would also implicate the system for losing track of an IFR flight. It was then that their request for my position and intentions made sense—they thought I was a VFR pop-up.

Anyway, what could have been a bad day ended with my apology accepted and an agreement by all to not let it happen again.

Thomas Mathews
Indianapolis, IN

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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