A while back we were transitioning Omaha’s airspace, and heard the following:
Omaha: “American 123, climb and maintain 10,000, one zero thousand.”
American 123: “One-zero thousand. Your timing was stupendous, I was just picking up the mic to ask for higher.”
Omaha: “Actually, the clearance just came in from Center.”
After several unrelated calls, Omaha: “American 123, contact the stupendous controllers at Minneapolis Center, 119.6.”
We were climbing west out of Teterboro in our Praetor 500, talking to New York Center. We heard a Southwest flight call Center, “Hey, Center, Southwest 345. Are the rides any better down lower?”
Center, in that perfect New York ATC voice, “Well, I have no idea, since I don’t know what your ride is like now and you haven’t told me.”
Palo Alto, California
Many years ago and right after I had gotten my private ticket, I decided it would be “fun” to pick up one of my customers at Midway Airport. Of course I had been to towered fields before but not with heavy commercial traffic where the dreaded “Keep your speed up you’re being followed by a Southwest 737” was heard. I was flying a T210 Centurion and cleared the fence way, way too fast. I bounced like a pogo stick on the runway. When tower handed me off to ground he said, “Call Ground 121.65 and be prepared to copy a phone number to call the tower. I cleared you to land once not seven times.”
I changed over to ground with fear and trepidation of facing my first violation and was met with, “No number to call. He’s just yanking your chain. That was one hell of a bounce however.”
Stewart G. McMillan
One flight recently, I had an interesting exchange with Jacksonville Approach, south of Jacksonville at 9000 feet.
Approach: “N1234, be advised traffic 11 o’clock 10 miles at 9500 can exhibit abrupt changes in altitude and position.”
Me: “Will observe. That a military aircraft?”
Approach: “I’m not really allowed to say. Just watch out.”
That’s a new one for me! I wonder what was being tested in the skies that day.
Raleigh, North Carolina
One afternoon at Renton Municipal Airport, which is a crowded flight training airport outside Seattle, Washington, the pattern was hopping and the combined Tower/Ground controller was beginning to sweat keeping the numerous Skyhawks, Skycatchers, and other general aviation aircraft separated.
As I waited to takeoff, I witnessed one Cessna Skycatcher began to creep up on the traffic ahead on final. To nobody’s surprise, Tower said “Cessna 123 go-around.” That was almost immediately followed by, “Cessna 123, join downwind.”
Ever the perfectionist, the pilot responded, “Tower, did you mean turn crosswind?”
Without missing a beat, the gentleman in the Tower, already known to be snarky on occasion, responded, “Crosswind leads to downwind.”
Sheepishly, the Cessna pilot readback, “Downwind, Cessna 123.”
I frequently fly Angel Flights into Boston Logan and have found the controllers very welcoming. They sometimes have trouble identifying me by make/model since small singles are not frequent visitors to this major aerodrome. On a recent mission, Ground sequenced an airliner behind us on a taxiway but clearly didn’t know what sort of aircraft I was.
Ground: “Airline 123 follow the little guy on Taxiway Alpha.”
Airline 123: “Follow the little guy on Taxiway Alpha.”
Me: “I may be little, but at least I’m paid for …”
Ground: “Airline 456. Give way to the little guy and then proceed via Taxiway Alpha … he’s paid for.”
South Dartmouth, MA
The low OTA warning is still on. Don’t want repeats? 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.