On the Air: November 2016


As I listened to mangled transmissions to Minneapolis Approach from a student pilot, the instructor took over:

“Minneapolis Center, Warrior 398ZU, uhhh Dakota 398ZU, I mean Cherokee… stand by.”

A few seconds later, I heard:

“We’re a single-engine Piper, with you at 3500.”

Mitchell Gossman
St. Cloud, MN

Heard recently in upstate South Carolina:

Greer Approach (sternly): “Army123, what are you doing, sir?”

Army123: “We were heading to the wrong airport.”

Greer Approach: “That’s why I said the airport was at twelve o’clock and four miles, not two o’clock and six miles.”

Army123: “Yes, sir.”

Greer Approach: “Be sure to tell them you have the correct airport when you contact tower.”

Army123: “Yes, sir.”

Neil O’Connor
Simpsonville, SC

Heard on a quiet Sunday morning:

Bonanza 1234: “Approach, Bonanza 1234, can I get direct to PDK (Dekalb-Peachtree) or should I expect vectors?”

Me, laughing on intercom to wife: “Vectors!”

Atlanta Approach: “Bonanza 234, you’re not from around here are ya? There’s no way you’ll get direct. Expect vectors 25 miles west of Atlanta.”

Bill Castlen
Dothan, AL

Last week while flying to Burbank I heard the following:

Seattle Center: “Horizon 273, R-44 helicopter three miles to the northwest.”

Horizon: “Traffic in sight.”

Center: “Helicopter 30LE, Dash 8 has you in sight. He is about a mile off your left wing.”

Horizon: “Center I’m not sure he has any wings.”

Center: “True, touch.”

Thomas Ysasi
Seattle, WA

I was on an IFR flight taking my daughter out to visit another daughter at Indiana University. Everything was operating normally, as I began preparing for the approach 20 minutes out. As I am working with the charts and calculations I could feel my daughter’s eyes watching me.

“Daddy is everything okay?” she asked.

“Sure, Honey. I am just getting prepared for landing at the airport,” I replied.

After a quiet moment she said, “Oh, I think I understand IFR flying now. It’s like extra credit homework that you bet your life on.”

Yep, I think she understands IFR pretty well.

Bob Safford
Pottstown, PA

A few years ago, I needed to get my pilot parachute repacked. So, I departed Concord, New Hampshire in my Super Decathlon and headed down to Pepperell, MA, the local sky-dive airport.

Rather than fly around the Class C airspace of the Manchester Airport this morning, I decided to punch into Boston Approach to see if I could cut across its western portion.

Me: “Good morning, Boston Approach. Decathlon 2 Alpha Charlie just departed Concord enroute to Pepperell. Request flight following.”

Approach (Rapid-fire female controller): “Decathlon 2 Alpha Charlie, squawk 5145 and maintain at or above 3500.”

Me: “5145. Will maintain at or above 3500.”

A few minutes into the flight and inside the Class C, something had distracted my attention.

Approach (Very loud & indignant): “Decathlon 2 Alpha Charlie, I thought I told you to maintain at or above 3500. I show your altitude at 3100.”

A quick glance at my altimeter confirmed my predicament. I shoved the throttle full forward and hauled back on the stick.

Me (Sheepishly): “Oops, sorry. Problem with the autopilot. Will maintain at or above 3500. 2 Alpha Charlie.”

Approach: “Is that aircraft equipped with an autopilot?”

Me: “Yes! You’re talking to it.”

There was no response. I’m guessing she didn’t appreciate my humor.

Paul Russo
Concord, NH

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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