On the Air July 2023


Flying into the Class D Purdue University Airport (home of the Purdue Boilermakers), I heard tower say, “N1234 enter right downwind for Runway 28.”

A few minutes later the tower said, “N1234, I know you’re from Bloomington (home of Indiana Hoosiers), but it’s your other right.”

Apparently the plane had turned left.

Then someone else came on frequency saying, “No wonder they can’t play basketball anymore….”

Matt Balla
Bloomington, Indiana

For your Interesting Fix Names desk:

My long time friend’s father was recently deceased Tuskegee airman Brigadier General Charles McGee. In his honor some fixes in to Kansas City International (KMCI) ILS 19L were renamed to TUSKG-AYRMN-MGEEE.

Rob Bondy
Fairfield Township, New Jersey

I went up on an IFR day to practice some approaches back into my home airport, located under the Atlanta Class Bravo shelf. While being vectored around, I heard the following exchange:

Atlanta Approach: “Turboprop 123, direct Atlanta, then on course.”

Turboprop, slightly garbled: “Atlanta Approach, Turboprop 123, could you please spell that?”

I figured that Approach’s transmission must have come through garbled on the turboprop’s end. Approach must have thought the same thing, because they just repeated the previous transmission.

This elicited another “could you spell that out for us?” from the turboprop.

I got the sense Approach hadn’t heard that one before when they responded, “Turboprop 123 … uh, tell you what, for now, just fly heading 180.”

Matt Hanna,
Atlanta, Georgia

We were flying into KTRM known for many years as Thermal, near Indio, California. We came in from the North flying over part of the Joshua Tree National Park. As we came over the last low mountains from Joshua Tree, we started hearing local pattern traffic calls.

When we were about eight miles out we made our first radio call, “Thermal Airport, Cirrus XYXX is eight miles to the north, inbound for landing. Will maneuver and make right traffic for Runway 35. Thermal.”

After that we kept hearing traffic calls starting with “Jackie Cochran Regional.”

This was our first time into the airport, so we checked our GPS and visual landmarks and we made sure we were flying into Thermal.

When we made another radio call on downwind, another pilot responded telling us that in 2004 the airport was renamed the Jacqueline Cochran Regional to honor the pioneering aviator and Indio native. The name seemed like a mouthful so I asked if there was a common, more shortened call for the airport.

At this moment a female pilot made a radio call which was, “Jackie Cock traffic, we are on a long and straight downwind for Runway 35, following the Cirrus. Jackie Cock.”

Me, a 59-year old pilot, and my 54-year old wife, sitting next to me, couldn’t stop giggling, and made sure that we were using Jackie Cock instead of Thermal for the remainder of the pattern.

Kent Mazzia
Alpine, Wyoming

Many years ago I was flying my Cessna 182 from the San Francisco Bay Area east toward Columbia (O22) in the foothills of the Sierra range. This was right at the time all the various Northern and Central California approach controls were united in a single facility as they are now, all using the name “NorCal.”

I was on VFR flight following and was handed off by TRACON to the next sector, so I made my radio call to what I understood was the then-named Sierra Approach, previously known as Stockton Approach.

“Sierra Approach, N12345 level at 5500.”

They replied “N12345 radar contact, this is now NorCal Approach. New name, same great service.”

Chris Toeppen
Palo Alto, California

Our supply has been better—thank you—but we’re still only one issue from dry. 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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