On The Air: January 2018


En route to Leesburg Executive around 1:00 a.m. inside Dulles Class Bravo, I heard a controller ask a United flight, “United XXX your choice 19R or 19C.”

The pilot came back with 19C and once cleared for the visual he responded, “Cleared for visual. 19C United XXX. Over to tower, nighty-night don’t let the bed bugs bite!”

Mitch Mahoney
Leesburg, VA

At Valdez, Alaska for the annual fly-in and STOL competition, a couple of planes arrived in short succession: a tailwheel Cessna with big Alaskan Bushwheel tires, followed by a Lake amphibian (not known for its short takeofforlanding capabilities).

Tower: “Cessna 123, turn left if you’re competing, or right if you’re just here to park.”

Cessna: “Cessna 123, turning left for competition parking.”

Tower: “Lake 456, turn right to park.”

Lake: “Hey, you’re not going to ask me if I’m competing?”

He didn’t ask. The Lake turned right.

Jim Freeman
Mobile, AL

Not a true OTA, but in the same vein:

I was flying my daughter cross-country for her to spend some time with her grandparents. My mother-in-law was there on the tarmac waving enthusiastically and blowing kisses … as the twin Cessna who landed two minutes ahead of us taxied in! She was a good sport to admit this to me after the fact.

Bob Dawe
Plainfield, IL

This past September I overheard this:

King Air 12345: “Potomac, King Air 12345, do you still need us to hold back to 190 knots?”

Approach: “King Air 345, yes I do. There’s a Pilatus about 50 miles ahead of you, same altitude, and we need to maintain separation while I hand you off to the next sector. You’d have to go really fast to get ahead of him before the hand-off.”

King Air 12345: “Potomac, King Air 345 could push it up to 238 knots. Would that work?”

There was a pause while the controller digested this option.

Approach: “King Air, 345 that works. Turn 10 degrees right and speed your discretion.”

King Air 12345: “Roger, Potomac, King Air 345 cleared ‘ludicrous speed!'”

Mike Jones
Southern Pines, NC

I was flying over central Kansas when I overheard Center clear a jet pilot “direct destination.”

The pilot, grateful, confirmed the clearance and added the compliment, “You’re a gentleman and a scholar.”

The controller, apparently unfamiliar with the phrase replied, “Say again?”

The pilot, simply replied, “Thank you. Have a great day.”

Jerry Arnold
Valentine, NE

I was inbound for landing at Reid-Hillview airport and had a traffic alert off to my left, 300 feet higher and faster. About a minute after the traffic alert the tower told me I had traffic above and to the left of me. I replied that I did not have traffic in sight. Tower said, “It’s a Mirage.”

I replied, “No wonder I can’t see them,” eliciting a chuckle out of the tower guy.


I couldn’t resist taking this photograph (below) of the just six-month old windsock at Banning Municipal airport. Only real pilots can appreciate the irony.

Ron Hays
Banning, CA

Wind Stock

We get ’em out, but hit bottom every month. Don’t want reruns? 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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