On The Air: April 2018


I was doing traffic pattern work in a Citabria on a Friday afternoon at a busy, towered, Class D airport. Meanwhile, the business jet traffic was picking up, and the tower controller was doing an admirable job working our touch and goes in between the jet arrivals and departures.

Lear123 (just departed): “KXYZ Tower, be advised there is a large turtle on Runway 17, about two-thirds of the way down from the numbers.”

KXYZ Tower: “Lear123, thanks for turtle report. Contact departure on 123.8.”

KXYZ Tower: “KXYZ traffic, be advised there is a large turtle on the west edge of Runway 17 at about 6000 feet. We are monitoring his position.”

Citabria 34NM: “KXYZ Tower, 34NM is midfield downwind for another touch and go.”

KXYZ Tower: “34NM, did you hear the turtle NOTAM?”

Citabria 34NM: “Roger that, but we don’t have him on TCAS, Turtle Collision Avoidance System.”

KXYZ Tower: “Citabria 34NM, you might want to avoid using too much runway on this one, although the turtle is likely no factor, he’s much faster than you are. Cleared touch and go Runway 17.”

Grant Haddix
Katy, TX

On the way out of Florida for Hurricane Irma, it was very, very busy on frequency with everyone trying to get out of the state. ATC was doing a great job of handling very heavy traffic loads, and still managing to provide flight following to the greatest extent possible, when I happened to overhear the following exchange:

Cessna 123: “Tallahassee Approach, Cessna 123, we are … um … would like … um … to request flight following to our destination.”

Tallahassee Approach (surprisingly patient): “Cessna 123, say position, altitude and destination.”

Cessna 123: “We’re (long pause) our position, (long pause) about uh … 342 miles from our destination.”

Tallahassee Approach (now clearly annoyed): “Cessna 123, that information is completely useless. Unable flight following. Squawk 1200. Frequency change approved.”

Tom Leffingwell
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Many years ago I landed my Piper Comanche 180 at Minneapolis International Airport to refuel. This was long before Delta had gobbled up Northwest Airlines. As I waited in line for take-off clearance the following conversations with Minneapolis tower took place.

Tower: “Comanche 6208P, taxi into position and hold Runway 29 Right.”

Comanche 08P: “Position and hold Runway 29 Right, 08P.”

Tower: “Comanche 6208P, cleared for takeoff Runway 29 Right. Fly runway heading. Climb and maintain 3000.”

Comanche 08P: “Cleared to go. runway heading 3000 feet, 08P.”

Tower: “Northwest Heavy, taxi into position and hold, Runway 29 Right.”

Northwest Heavy: “Position and hold, Runway 29 Right, Northwest Heavy.”

Tower: “Northwest Heavy, cleared for takeoff Runway 29 Right. Fly heading 310. Climb and maintain 4000. Caution wake turbulence, departing Comanche.”

Northwest Heavy: “Cleared for takeoff, Runway 29 Right. Heading 310. Climb 4000. I think we can handle the turbulence. I have heard that the Comanche is the sweetest flying single that’s ever been made. Northwest Heavy.”

Comanche 08P: “Roger that. The son and grandson of the two men that sold me 08P the first and second time I bought it told me the same thing. They also said don’t ever test fly a Comanche unless you can afford to buy it right then.”

Brian M. Xavier
Kasson, MN

A solo student pilot negotiating the DFW Class B in a Cessna 150 was doing the best she could in mid-August.

DFW Approach: “Cessna 12345, turn right heading 230. Maintain 90 knots and give me 500 fpm to 4500 for arriving traffic.”

Cessna 12345: “Dallas Approach, unable. Pick two out of three.”

DFW Approach (to laughter in the background): “Umm Cessna 12345, turn right heading 230 and do the best you can to 4500.”

Steve Swartz
Auburn, AL

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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