On The Air: January 2019


I was flying south over a water route just off the east coast nearing Washington, DC when a Baron called ATC and this was the exchange.

Baron: “Washington Center, what were those aircraft that just went by me? It was a group of some kind of fighters.”

Center: “Oh, those. Yes, that was a flight of four F-15’s.”

New Voice: “Approach, I hate to correct you but that flight was four U.S. Navy Super Hornets, not those F-15’s.”

Center: “Sorry, Navy. I quickly read the aircraft type and thought it was F-15.”

Navy: “No, we are a heck of a lot better than those guys!”

Marc Delude
Bluffton, SC

Now, I realize that “On the Air” is usually about amusing encounters, but I want to share something that was simply heart warming to possibly expand your horizons.

About a year ago I was training a student pilot. The college student was very intense and strived to be perfect at all her training. She listened to LiveATC a lot, practiced with her airline captain father in the evenings. When it came time to get ready for her three takeoffs and landings at a controlled field, she and I went to Rocky Mountain Metro four times for practice.

On the day she chose to go, she dropped me off at the terminal. I gave her last minute encouragement and reminded her to not forget to pick me up when she was done.

The pattern became quite busy, the tower controller switched her back and forth between the parallels twice, right and left patterns—challenging at best.

She came and got me and as we were departing the pattern back to home base, the tower controller said: “Awesome job 118FS. I apologize for having to switch you back and forth so much, but you handled it so well. Thanks for helping me out and doing such a great job.”

I tear up every time I recount this exchange just as I did after hearing the controller give my student that wonderful accolade. I wanted to reach out and hug him!

Thank you to that controller and all the rest of you that do such a wonderful job across the country, helping us fly safe and willing to let us know that you enjoy working with us.

Jay Turnbull
Loveland, CO

I was just airborne from Milano Linate airport, Italy, on an SID which prescribed a right turn when passing 850 feet, but not before the VOR located at the end of the runway.

At exactly 850 feet, I turned right, totally overlooking the “not before” limitation.

Almost immediately, the controller called us, “I-PRAL, you … where are you going?”

Frantically searching for a not too pathetic excuse, I replied, “Didn’t we follow the noise-reduction procedure?”

After a five-second delay, a disgusted voice reached us, “I-PRAL, fly heading south.”

Stefano Salis
Milan, Italy

One day we were finishing some instrument training at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, an area well-known for its fairly large Amish presence. It was very windy that day and as we were headed outbound, the Tower told a landing Piper, “I think I just saw a horse and buggy pass you.”

The Piper responded, “Yah, we are pretty slow today.”

Harold Lanfear
Newark, DE

My brother, J.R., and I have made a number of flights to the Bahamas in one of our two airplanes. Once we had a crowd, so we took both airplanes. He was in his Cessna 182 and I was in my Cessna 206.

On the return trip while crossing central Florida, near Orlando, on a beautiful VFR day, (you have to know the Florida geography to appreciate this) I was leading in the 206, when J.R., trailing in the 182 called, “Hey, I lost sight of you.”

I answered, “I’m over this orange grove.”

J.R. replied, “Could you be a little more specific?”

I responded, “It’s the one next to alake.”

This was received by a sarcastic, “Oh gee, thank you so much.”

Bill Poole
Huntsville, AL

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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