On The Air: October 2013


Back in the day, I had an opportunity to fly in the right seat of a U.S. Navy P-3. Not unique but unusual in that I was the crew navigator. We were on a cross country training flight at FL220 with a stopover in my home town. Life was good and we were getting closer to our intermediate destination.
Unbeknownst to me, my next door neighbor was the ATC approach controller that evening.
Approach: “Navy Lima Zulu Zero Niner, do you have Lieutenant Wiseman on board?”
Somewhat startled, the Pilot in Command responded, “Lima Zulu Zero Niner, affirmative.”
Approach: “Tell him it’s ok to come on down. His wife has already mowed the grass.”

Bob Wiseman
Austin, Texas

Recently, I left Keokuk, Iowa and was told to squawk 1675 on an IFR flight plan and contact Kansas City at 2,000. Upon contacting Kansas City they asked me to verify squawk 1675
Kansas City: “One One One Six Zulu X-Ray, verify squawk code of 1675.”
Me: “Negative, I have 1657; I think I put in the time instead, good correction. I’ll change and ident.”
Kansas City: “Thanks, this is a first for me.”
Me: “Same here.”
After a pause, another pilot: “So what time is it?”
Kansas City: “Eleven minutes after original incorrect squawk.”

Donza Worden
Drummond Island, Michigan

There is an active parachute drop zone in the area of Gardiner, New York that is monitored by ATC. I overheard the following recently:
ATC had just made an announcement: “Attention all aircraft, jumpers away over Gardiner airport, one-five thousand feet and below. Use caution.”
A few minutes later: “New York Approach, Cessna X-Ray Yankee Zulu. Do you know if the jumpers are down yet?”
ATC: “I’m not sure, but if not I know they’re headed in that direction.”

William Cole
Ellenville, New York

Being an aviation journalist doesn’t exactly count as fame, but as the former editor of IFR and Aviation Consumer magazines, I do run across people who know me. I guess a bit of that name recognition got to my head passing through New York Approach airspace:
Me: “New York Approach, Cirrus Seven Two Zero Echo Charlie, five thousand.”
New York Approach: “Cirrus Zero Echo Charlie, New York Approach. (pause) Hey, is this Jeff?”
Me (caught off guard): “Uh, yes.”
Approach: “I thought so.”
I asked myself, “Who do I know at New York TRACON?” I couldn’t think of anyone. Did he know me from IFR? But he recognized my voice, so maybe it was the YouTube videos for AVweb. Or had I met him at some seminar? Finally, I couldn’t take the suspense.
Me: “New York Approach, Cirrus Zero Echo Charlie. I give up. Who is this?”
Approach: “I’m going to leave you guessing for a bit.”
Me: “I have no idea. How do you know me?”
Approach (with an audible smirk): “Oh, your name is right here on your flight plan.”
If there was a popping sound on the radio right then, it was my bubble of perceived fame bursting.

Jeff Van West
Portland, Maine

This past August on a flight through the south-central U.S., we were in the flight levels, dodging and weaving around cell after cell, build-up after build-up. ATC had been great, granting every request for a deviation, but after a bit, the controller asked, “Four Zero November, how much longer on your right deviation?”
I’d been looking at another build-up, so I said, “Well, I was just thinking of coming a bit further right for the next 40 miles or so.”
ATC: “Four Zero November, not a problem. I was just wondering how many sectors you’re going to penetrate on your deviations.”
Me: “With all this weather to weave through, I’d say, pretty much all of ‘em.”
ATC (laughing): “OK, Four Zero November. Cleared to deviate as necessary. I’ll just tell everybody you’re comin’.”

Sal Cruz
Watsonville, California


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