On The Air: May 2013


Last month I was climbing out of Dulles. Upon changing frequencies there was a very loud background noise that turned out to be a radio station carrying the Rush Limbaugh show. After trying my other radio to no avail, I explained the problem to the controller.
Mooney 231RE: “It’s hard to listen to you and Rush Limbaugh at the same time.”
Potomac Approach: “It’s hard to listen to Rush Limbaugh, period. I’ll have a frequency change for you in five miles.”
Me: “Looking forward to it!”
They were some of the longest five miles of my flying life.

David Stern
Burdett, New York

The Phoenix Deer Valley Airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the United States. There are two extremely active flight schools on the field. Planes are often lined up waiting for one of the two runways, and special operation procedures require that a pilot call the air controller only when the pilot is at the hold line, number one for takeoff. In addition, on initial call to Ground, pilots must advise whether they’re departing and their direction of flight, or staying in the pattern.
The guys in the tower are amazingly patient, and able to differentiate between the many experienced pilots and the beginners with many different foreign accents. One of the schools, TransPac, primarily teaches students from China, and the English of these Chinese students isn’t always the best. Early one morning I overheard this interchange between the ground controller and one of the Chinese students.
TransPac 123: “Dea Vahle gwound, TrasPak wa to tree reedy to tauxi weeth Yaunkee.”
Ground: “TransPac 123, taxi to Runway Seven Right via Charlie, Charlie One. Say intentions.”
TransPac 123: “Tauxi to Raunwey Saeveen Rite Vea Chaalee, Chaalee Won. I eeten ta be a airline piowlet.”
There was a longer than usual pause before the ground controller explained what he meant by “say intentions.”

Daryl M. Williams
Phoenix, Arizona

While flying over Florida I participated in this exchange.
Miami Center: “Baron N400CA.Turn 20 Degrees right to avoid jumpers at 12,000 feet.”
Baron N400CA (me): “20 degrees right.”
Plane carrying jumpers: “Miami Center, jumpers away in one minute.”
Miami Center: “Roger. All traffic in vicinity of … jumpers at 12,000 feet.”
Plane carrying jumpers: “Miami Center, jumpers away.” In the back ground while the pilot’s mic was keyed you could hear a woman’s blood curdling scream as she left the plane.
Miami Center: “Roger. Sounds like one did not go so willingly!”
Baron N400CA (me): “As long as she jumped and wasn’t pushed.”
Miami Center: “Roger that. Sounded like she was reluctant?”
Plane carrying jumpers: “Have either of you ever tried it?”
Miami Center: “I choose life!”

Ken Copeland
Batesville, Arkansas

Many years ago I was flying a 58 Baron on a Life Flight transport mission from Indiana to Memphis Tennessee. The intercom we had required a separate button to be pressed and held for the crew and passengers to talk.
I was starting the decent into Memphis when I got yet another call from the back asking, “When will we get there?”
I keyed the button and said, “We should be on the ground in about 20 minutes if Air Traffic Control doesn’t mess with me. They know I am coming from Yankee-land and that could give us a problem.”
When I released the button I realized that I was pushing the PTT. In a sweet female drawl I heard, “Six niner YANKEE, now that we know what you think of us let me show you what we think of you. Turn left heading 090 and make left 360’s until you can admit that the south shall rise again.”

Stewart McMillan
Valparaiso, Indiana

On my weekly keep-me-and-the-engines-happy flight I was monitoring the busy Denton airport frequency as I passed their airspace and heard a classic student pilot response.
Tower: “Cessna 123 ident.”
Cessna 123: “This is Cessna 123.”
Never fails to make me smile.

Patricia Jayne (Pat) Keefer
Roanoke, Texas


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