Controllers at New York TRACON are known for being all business and taking no prisoners. Likewise, “unable, remain on the airway,” is the typical reply to a request for a shortcut. I was about 80 miles from my destination, on the preferred routing, which involves a couple of victor routes and passage through two more approach facilities (Bradley and Providence) before I would arrive at my destination.
Me: “Good morning New York, Angel Flight 1818.”
New York Departure: “Angel Flight 1818. White Plains Altimeter 3003. Where you goin’ today?”
Me: “New Bedford. How ‘bout you?”
New York Departure: “I’m hoping to go home. Cleared Direct New Bedford.”
Saved me about 20 miles. I guess it pays to be polite on the radio.
As Chief Flight Instructor of our flight school one of the responsibilities is to perform new engine break-in flights. Recently, in preparation for the first flight on a newly installed remanufactured engine, I texted the tower chief
with a brief explanation of what the mechanic and I wanted to do. We were going to fly a racetrack pattern within three miles of the runway at 2000 feet AGL so that we’d be in gliding distance at all times just in case something went wrong.
Our home base had recently become a Class E with a control tower, so this was all new protocol to the tower. The tower chief approved my request, and the mechanic and I made the maiden flight. Upon establishing ourselves in the racetrack, we heard the tower controller say, “I hope that #$%&ing thing doesn’t catch on fire.”
Not quite believing what we had just heard over the air on an obviously inadvertent open mic, we looked at each other and burst out laughing, and continued laughing and remarking about the comment during and after our hour flight test.
On the ground, I called the tower. The phone was answered by the guilty party, and I told him what he had said over the open mic. Trying to remember what he had been referring to, he said, “Oh yeah, we were talking about the new engine maintenance flight hoping that it didn’t catch on fire and crash.”
I responded, laughing again, that he was referring to me and the mechanic. We both got another good laugh about his comment.
I learned long ago flying in F-4’s that what is said in the cockpit stays in the cockpit. Beware of the open mic syndrome lest you have to do the regretted “Happy Dance” in front of the Commanding Officer: “I’m sorry Sir, it’ll never happen again!” (Of course, I have never had to do anything like that.)
I recently heard the following on the air. N1234: “Wilkes-Barre approach, November 1234 is cancelling flight following.”
Wilkes-Barre Approach: “Was it something I said?”
N1234: “No. It’s what you’re wearing. Those pants are terrible!”
Wilkes-Barre Approach: “Now you just sound like my wife. Squawk 1200. Frequency change approved.”
I was flying around Tampa, Florida recently when I heard the following:
N123: “Tampa Approach, Cessna 123. Ten out for Zephyrhills.”
Tampa Approach: “Cessna 123, roger, advise weather.”
N123: “Oh it’s clear and a million. Really splendid. Thanks for asking.”
Chapel Hill, NC
In 2004, I was flying to Tampa Exec when George W had a POTUS TFR centered at nearby Tampa International. The TFR had the usual no-fly 10 NM inner ring. Depending on where you measure it from, the two airports are 10.1 NM apart. As near as I could tell beforehand, the don’t-you-dare no-fly ring extended to just about the far end of the runway I was planning to land on, Runway 23. The clouds and vis were well above the ILS minimums. ATC’s final instruction: “Yeah, try real hard not to go missed.”
Landed fine and all was well, until my taxi was later searched by very serious-looking guys. Turned out that George W and I were staying at the same hotel that night…