On The Air March 2023


We had just received our handoff from SoCal Departure to LA Center after departing Palm Springs International in our Praetor 500. We hadn’t even had a chance to check in when we heard this exchange:

N1AB: “… requesting direct destination.”

LA Center: “Who… who was that?”

N1AB: “N1AB requesting direct to our final destination.”

LA Center: “No. (pause) There is no way to clear you direct from your present position to an airport in Canada!”

N1AB: “Oh well, it was worth asking.”

Unidentified voice, clearly annoyed: “No, it wasn’t!”

Daniel Sternbergh
Palo Alto, California

I had an early departure planned the next morning from my towered home airport, but I forgot what time the tower opened. I wanted to know so I could plan to get my clearance from them or know if I’d need to get it remotely. Since I was taxiing in the evening before, I just asked.

Me: “Tower, sorry, but I’ve forgotten. What time do you open in the morning?”

Tower: “Why? Are you gonna bring us Starbucks?”

Me: “No, I’ve got an early departure and I need to know where I’ll get my clearance.”

Tower: “We open at seven.”

Me: “Okay. I’ll probably call you for my clearance from the end of the runway.”

Tower: “My coworker here says he’s opening in the morning, so he’ll be on the watch for you.”

Me: “Okay. Thanks.”

Tower: “Oh, and he said if you bring Starbucks, he’ll actually give you your clearance … and maybe even a better one.”

Sal Cruz
Watsonville, California

One of the joys of being based at an airport with a very active flight school (Orange County, Montgomery, New York) is the entertainment value of some of the radio transmissions. Witness:

Slightly bored instructor voice: “168 Lima Alpha, 45-mile final Runway 22.”

Overly excited voice, hence probably a student: “Did you say 45-mile final?!”

Instructor: “Sorry, actually it’s a late call. We were lined up 20 miles ago.”

Sometime later, even more bored instructor voice: “168 Lima Alpha now 30 mile final Runway 22…”

Daniel Spitzer, MD
Piermont, New York

On a recent LightHawk flight, we were approaching Willow Run, Michigan, just before sunset. The weather was clear enough for a visual approach to 23, but with the hour and the abundance of airports we hadn’t seen before, we thought it would be a good idea to utilize the RNAV 23 to make sure we were landing at the airport where we intended to land.

Us: “Detroit Approach, Citation 77E. We’re unfamiliar. Request vectors to the RNAV 23.”

Detroit Approach: “Citation 77E, that’s a real long way. You’d be very familiar by the time you landed. How about vectors to final instead?”

We accepted.

Gabrielle Adelman
Watsonville, California

My brother-in-law told me of an incident at a Class C airport where he parked for a day or so. Upon returning to his aircraft to leave, he did not know exactly what to say to Ground control when he wanted to taxi. After receiving his clearance he listened to the frequency for a little while. He heard several commercial airliners stating they were ready for a push and so he figured he would contact ground control and state the same.

Piper 1234: “Ground, Piper 1234.”

Ground: “Piper 1234, Ground, go ahead.”

Piper 1234: “Ground, Piper 1234. We’re on the ramp at the FBO and ready for push.”

Ground: “Piper 1234. You are indeed a Piper Cherokee?”

Piper 1234: “Ground, Piper 1234, correct.”

Ground: “Piper 1234 you’re ready for a taxi not a push.”

And then they gave him directions to taxi.

Bill Whiteford
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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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