On The Air: June 2014


Several years ago, it was one of those rare days when low-altitude winds were really howling—strong, steady, but relatively turbulence-free. On a dark winter night, we were beating against this headwind. Near Huntsville, we heard the following:
Cessna 123: “Huntsville Approach, Cessna 123. What is your radar painting for our ground speed?”
Huntsville Approach: “Cessna 123. We show you making a bit more than 140 knots.”
Cessna 123: “Not bad for a Cessna 150.”

JW Bruce
Starkville, Miss.

I was requesting my clearance from Plattsburg, N.Y. to Boston from Burlington Approach.
Burlington: “Penair 264, squawk Five Three Three Three.”
Me: “Five Three Three Three, or as you guys say, Fife Tree Tree Tree.”
Burlington: “That’s right, Five and a Forest!”

Angelo Iannuzzo
Nashua, N.H.

There’s an old story about a Blackbird crew streaking across the southwestern U.S. at an altitude and speed that only Blackbird pilots and astronauts experience. It was a slow day with center, so the high and low sectors were combined. A Cessna broke the quiet solitude.
“Center, Cessna 75 Charlie, have you got a groundspeed readout for us?”
Center responded in that nearly bored but always professionally-vigilant voice, “Cessna 75 Charlie, I show you at 90 knots over the ground.”
Apparently, there was a Baron who wanted to teach the Cessna a lesson. “Center, Baron 64 Whiskey. What are you showing for us?”
The same center voice replied, “Baron 64 Whiskey, groundspeed showing 130 knots.”
The race was on. The next contestant was a Navy F-18. Being Navy, he matched the controller’s bored professional tone and used words sparingly. “Center, Dusty 52. Ground speed check?”
With a slight shift of tone to one of amusement, center replied, “Dusty 52, we have you at 620 over the ground.”
There was no way the Blackbird crew was going to let Navy win that one, so the back-seater keyed the mic, mustered his best blas voice, and asked, “Los Angeles, Aspen 20. Can you give us a speed check?”
The controller audibly smirked as he replied, “Aspen 20, you’re showing 1842 knots across the ground.”
That “42” is what got the Blackbird crew and they couldn’t let it go. “Oh, OK. We’re showing right at 1900. Perhaps it’s a curvature-of-the-earth error.”
Navy never had a chance.

Sal Cruz
Watsonville, Calif.

Your recent ASR approach column reminded me of a PAR approach I did at Portsmouth International a few years ago.
Approach: “November 299 Mike Golf no need to acknowledge further transmissions.”
Approach: “9 Mike Golf left of course.”
Approach: “9 Mike Golf right of course.”
Approach: “9 Mike Golf above glideslope.”
Approach: “9 Mike Golf left of course.”
And so it went. As the Tower thanked me for practice and asked me how I liked it, I replied, “No problem. Just like flying with my wife.”

John Michaels
Lake George, N.Y.

How about some cute airport names?
In New York’s Hudson Valley, and near Albany:
WAXWING—hopefully named for the indigenous bird, not a commentary on the structural status of the resident aircraft.
NETTIES PLACE (Pvt)—well, Nettie’s place should be private, no?
HOP HOUSE—where departures are prohibited for at least eight hours after arrival.

Daniel Spitzer
Piermont, N.Y.

Minneapolis has the PIGZI intersection—only a true Minnesotan would know that it stands for PIGS EYE—the original name for the city—after trader Pigs Eye Parant.
It also features the SKETR arrival—recognition of the ravenous mosquitoes that ruin our short summers.

Jim Hanson
Albert Lea, Minn.


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