On The Air: July 2019


We were on a training flight to Ramona Airport. The ceiling was 3000 broken on a gorgeous winter day in San Diego. We heard the tower talking to an aircraft departing the pattern:

Tower: “Caution. Birds, westbound 700 feet.”

A few minutes later we heard:

Tower: “Those birds are geese flocking up.”

This was followed by:

Tower: “The birds are behind you now at 2000.”

Aircraft: “Birds in sight.”

Considering how many feathered dangers we face at that airport, we really appreciate those traffic calls.

Shairrie L. Van Duzer
San Diego, CA

We were flying IFR in a Cirrus to North Las Vegas from Gillespie field in San Diego. Conditions were visual and we were cruising at 9000 feet.

LA Center: “Cirrus N12345, traffic, 12 o’clock, same altitude and direction. Type unknown. You’re going to overtake them. I’m not talking to him.”

Cirrus: “N12345 traffic in sight.”

About five minutes later after we passed the traffic from underneath close enough to read their tail numbers clearly and see the pilots’ faces:

Cirrus: “LA Center, N12345, be advised traffic is a Cessna 170, tail number N54321. Give him a few minutes to check in for flight following. He’s wiping the poop out of his pants right now.”

LA Center (laughing): “N12345, roger.”

Andrew Gray
San Diego, CA

Returning home to Peachtree DeKalb airport in metro Atlanta, I heard the following:

Atlanta Approach: “Citation 1234, expect the visual to Runway 21L at Peachtree. Let me know when you have the weather.”

Citation 1234: “Approach, Citation 1234, we have the weather for Peachtree. And, we have the airport in sight, if that’s important.”

Approach: (chuckling) “Well it will be at some point.”

Brian Williams
Marietta, GA

Just off the shore of northwest Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico, is HEVVN, an oft-used fix for pilots crossing the Gulf from the southern U.S. over to Florida. I was recently in Alabama and heard this exchange with Atlanta Center.

Center: “Citation 456, Atlanta. To what fix are you navigating?”

Citation 456: “Uh, well, um, Citation 456 is trying to go to HEVVN, but it doesn’t look like we’re doing a very good job of it and we won’t get to HEVVN this way.”

Center: “Citation 456, roger. If you want to get to HEVVN I suggest a more direct route.”

Citation 456: “Citation 456 is now attempting direct HEVVN, God willing.”

Center: “No problem, Citation 456. I’m just trying to keep you on course to HEVVN.”

Citation 456: “Bless you.”

Sal Cruz
Watsonville, CA

While holding short of 11L at Tucson International Airport recently I heard the following:

Tower: “American 1234 cleared to land 11L.”

American 1234: “Cleared to land 11L. By the way we passed some balloons out here at 3400. American 1234.”

Tower: “What color and what direction of movement?”

American 1234: “Red and white. Headed west.”

Skywest 123: “Skywest 123 on the visual 11L.”

Tower: “Skywest 123, cleared to land 11L. Use caution red and white balloons reported at 3400 moving west.”

Anonymous voice on frequency: “It’s my birthday.”

Another voice : “Mine too.”

Alvin Jones
Roswell, NM

Late one night while I was travelling from Ronald Reagan National Airport to Des Moines, Iowa, I heard the following:

Rouge 1853: “Chicago Center, Rouge 1853 checking in. How are the rides?”

The reply came after a long pause:

Chicago Center: “Yeah believe it or not I had my thingy inserted into the wrong hole. Should be a smooth ride all night.”

Robert Schapiro
Tampa, FL

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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