On the Air: July 2020


In the early 1970s, I was a captain in the Kansas Army National Guard flying a CH-54 Sky Crane helicopter IFR north bound off of Forbes Field, Topeka, Kansas. We were headed to annual training with Jeep on a four point load hung under the CH-54 for ground transportation upon arrival. We were level at 4000 in the clouds on a Victor airway when over the intercom, our flight engineer advised that the hood was loose on our Jeep. We had entered the clouds at about 3000 feet. I had the following exchange with Kansas City Center:

Me: “Kansas City Center, Guard 435, request.”

Kansas City Center: “Guard 435, say request.”

Me: “Guard 435 the hood is up on my Jeep. Request immediately landing, block altitude to 4500 to allow me to land for 20 minutes to secure my Jeep.”

Kansas City Center (after a long pause): “Roger, 435, uh … eh … say type aircraft?”

Me: “Guard 435, CH-54 helicopter.”

Kansas City Center: “Guard 435, cleared to land as requested, call climbing to 4000 on my frequency.”

Me: “Guard 435 cleared to land, out of 4000. Will call you coming back out on this frequency.”

We broke out at about 3000, landed and went to ground idle on both engines. The flight engineer and crew chief let the Jeep down, turned it around and hooked it back up on the four points, and tied the hood securely down. We did an instrument take off.

Me: “Kansas City Center Guard 435 climbing to 4000, thanks for your help.”

Kansas City Center: “Guard 435 climb to and maintain 4000 and cleared on course.”

The rest of our trip was uneventful and as always thankful for the able help of ATC, which continues to this day.

Charles R. Rayl

Strong City, KS

My wife has always been a reluctant flier, only dropping her objections to flying with me if one of the kids was in trouble and she needed a lift to come to their aid. This has put her in the air with me in the congested SoCal airspace with towered airports on several occasions. Eventually, she fancied herself something of an expert on routine pilot/ATC communications. One day she asked me to fly her to Watsonville, a non-towered field in NorCal, to see our son who at that time lived in Santa Cruz.

Upon signing off from flight following, I began communicating with the local Watsonville traffic on the common traffic advisory frequency. Fortunately, the pattern was completely clear, and I made my announcements on downwind, base, final and so on.

After a perfect weather flight, smooth landing, and powering down, I turned triumphantly to look at my wife for the admiring glances I was expecting after such an exemplary example of husbandly airmanship. She had a mortified look on her face. ”What’s wrong?” I asked.

She replied, with her lower lip quivering, “Why didn’t anyone at Watsonville talk to you?”

Glenn Cook

San Diego, CA

I heard the following exchange on a beautiful spring day when Covid had grounded almost everyone.

Cherokee 123: “Approach, we are headed down to Okeechobee today and would like to come through the Class Bravo, and I guess we would like flight following, too … (long pause) … oh, and we would like to make one touchand- go at Mike Charlie Oscar on the way.”

I thought to myself, “This is going to be interesting!”

Approach: “Cherokee 123… (long pause) … did you just ask to do a touch-and-go at Orlando International Airport.”

Cherokee 123: (Somewhat sheepishly) “Uhhh … yes.”

Approach: “Yeaaaaaaaahhhhhh … uhhhhhhh … mmmmmmm … yeah … so, uhhh … that’s not going to happen.”

Cherokee 123: (More sheepishly than before) “Okay.”

Now, to give the controller credit, this exchange followed two minutes later.

Approach: “Cherokee 123, I know we couldn’t get you that touch-and-go at Orlando International, but I could get you vectors for a low approach over at the NASA Shuttle Landing Strip … and that’s a pretty cool ride.”

Cherokee 123: (Now enthusiastically) “You can do that??? Yeah, let’s go!”

And … off they went!

John E. Moore, III

Vero Beach, FL


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