While flying through South Carolina, I overheard the following conversation.
Roanoke Approach: “Piper 123 you have traffic 12 o’clock 3 miles, opposite direction, 500 feet above you.”
Piper 123: (student pilot after a brief pause) “Ah…roger Roanoke approach…this is Piper 123 and…understand that there is (longer pause)…traffic at 12 o’clock…500 feet above me…and…and…opposite direction. Right now we can’t see traffic but we’re looking.”
Roanoke Approach: “Piper 123, traffic no longer a factor. They were fast.”
A few weeks ago, my friend and I were talking to Cedar Rapids Approach when this exchange occurred:
Us: “104 Charlie Sierra, we switched radios. How do you hear us?”
Approach: “Cirrus Four Charlie S… Correction, Mooney Four Charl… Correction, Cirrus Four Charlie Sierra, I hear you loud and clear.”
I couldn’t resist: “CirrusMooneyCirrusFourCharlieSierra, thank you.”
Approach: “Nicely played!”
Las Vegas, Nevada
With some trepidation, my instructor endorsed my logbook for a long solo cross-country from Sanford, Florida to Pompano Beach, Florida. With plotter and sectional in hand, I took off into a very typical late summer Florida afternoon of scattered cumulus clouds becoming increasingly cloudy. My concern with the lowering clouds intersected with my concern for the 1500 foot towers northwest of Palm Beach and my pilotage skills vacated the plane like a bunch of scared parachutists. I was left with nothing to do but key the mic:
Me: “Palm Beach Approach, Cessna 46400, student pilot.”
Palm Beach Approach: “Cessna 46400, Palm Beach Approach.”
In the most professional voice I could muster: “Ah, Palm Beach Approach, Cessna 400. Ah, I wonder if you could help? I’m not really lost but I just don’t know where I am.”
As this was 40 years ago and before transponders, approach gave me a few headings, located me and sent me merrily on my way to Pompano. I continue to be beholden to controllers ever since.
Several years ago while inbound to Winston-Salem, North Carolina after a day of training with the Civil Air Patrol, I heard a Cardinal being cleared to land and then clearing the runway.
Tower: “Cardinal 1234, stop right there. You’ve been a baaaaaad boy. You flew over Camp David and the Secret Service is on its way to talk to you.”
The Cardinal pilot sheepishly engaged in a conversation about the unknown ETA of the Secret Service.
Cardinal 1234: “Can I park?”
Tower: “You can park and go into the FBO but do not leave the property.”
After landing and fueling myself, I walked into the FBO to settle up. I was wearing an Air Force uniform and when he saw me the Cardinal pilot shot up like he was hit with a bolt of electricity. I kinda felt bad for him. Kinda.
Greensboro, North Carolina
On a recent VFR cross country I was being vectored around Bravo airspace near Lakeland, Florida when Center asked “63F would you like direct to Venice?”
I gladly accepted and was directed to turn 30 degrees right, followed by another 20 degrees right, and finally another 10 degrees at which point the controller remarked, “That’s a stiff wind coming out of the northwest. Do you know the winds aloft at your altitude?”
Without hesitation I replied, “Gimme a second to stick my finger out the window and check.”
A couple of seconds of radio silence later he came back on laughing and said, “Never heard that one before.”
I was flying just northeast of Dallas on the first day of sequester-induced controller cutbacks.
Fort Worth Center: “King Air 12345, cleared direct FINGR for the FINGR3 arrival.”
King Air 12345: “Cleared direct FINGR.”
Fort Worth Center: “They told us not to give any shortcuts today, but I don’t see any way to do it except to give you the finger.”
Mesquite, TX 75150