On the Air: March 2015


My brother is an air traffic controller here in our city. My father and I occasionally get the chance to be on frequency with him when his schedules and our flights overlap. Radio transmission quality makes it hard to know for sure if we are talking to him or not.

One early morning, I was getting my IFR clearance. While I was pretty sure it was my brother, I dutifully read back my clearance. I knew it was my brother when the reply came back: “1063W readback incorrect. Every transmission must start with ‘Oh Most Honorable Controller’.”

He is one of the few men who gets to tell his father and brother “where to go” without a family argument.

Bruce Belling
Des Moines, IA

Obviously named by a fan of the 1951 science fiction movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” the Quakertown, PA GPS Runway 11 approach fixes are KLATU, BRDDA, NICTO and GORTT.

Rich Thulin
Bethlehem, PA

I was on a recent flight from Oakland, CA to Austin, TX. About 100 nautical miles east of Oakland I would have liked a shortcut through the spooky military airspace (including Groom Lake) north of Las Vegas.

ME: “Pilatus N123X, any chance of a short-cut today?”

ATC: “Sure, no problem. Pilatus 123X, climb and maintain flight level 600 and cleared direct Austin.”

ME: “Ah…thanks for the offer, but we are a little heavy for that today. Flight level 270 is fine.”

ATC: “Right…gotcha. Pilatus 123X, maintain 270, flight plan route.”

Jack Long
Austin, TX

I was flying a Citation Mustang a few months ago in some really hot relative temperatures (ISA + 17 degrees C). As the plane was getting near its final altitude of FL400, it was struggling and was climbing at about 500 fpm for the last 1500 feet or so. The controller picked this time to ask me my plane’s Mach speed. I replied, “Mach 0.54.”
The controller’s reply was, “Ouch.”
Good thing the radio is a blind medium and no-one saw the expression on my face.

Marc Dulude
Wayland, MA

On a recent flight in the LA basin, I was cruising from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara at 6000 feet. ATC cleared a Gulfstream off Burbank/Bob Hope to turn right and climb to 13,000 feet. After the read back, ATC called me:

ATC: “Baron 567ET, traffic, a Gulfstream at your nine o’clock, in a climbing turn, will be crossing in front of you.”

Me: “Baron 567ET, looking.”

Having a strong tailwind, my groundspeed was much faster than usual.
ATC: “Gulfstream 1234, restrict your climb to 5000. Traffic, a Baron at your two to one o’clock, level at 6000.”

ATC (again): “Gulfstream 1234, restrict your climb to 5000.”
Still no response from the Gulfstream.

Looking at the ADS-B traffic display on my Garmin 750, the Gulfstream target just changed from a harmless triangle to an ugly yellow circle with a spear pointed across my nose. As if all this wasn’t enough to get my blood going, it then menacingly yelled, “Traffic.”

ATC: “Gulfstream 1234, stop your climb. If you can hear me, squawk 7600.”
As I was pulling back on power and starting a turn (I know, lots of luck dodging a Gulfstream) the Gulfstream answered, “Stopping our climb at 5000.”

Watching the ADS-B traffic picture, it appeared the Gulfstream passed 1000 feet below and close enough in front of me that he was out of sight. I didn’t see him until he was at my two o’clock.

ATC (with the inimitable controller-voice attitude): “Gulfstream 1234, I have called you four times. You are clear of the Baron traffic, climb to 13,000. Contact LA Center on 135.5.”

Gulfstream 1234: “Contacting center on 135.5.”

ATC: “Baron 567ET, contact Point Mugu on 124.7.”

Me: “Baron 567ET, Mugu on 124.7. Can you get me the Gulfstream’s address? I want to send him my laundry bill.”

ATC: (Chuckle) “You will have to make that request from the next sector.”

Ronald Hays
Santa Barbara, CA

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 name and location.


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