On The Air: June 2018


I was flying from Jacksonville, North Carolina to College Park, Maryland on an IFR flight plan to go to a Redskins game. It was a CAVU day. The following exchange took place somewhere southeast of Richmond:

Washington Center: “Skyhawk 68E, traffic two o’clock, 10 miles, westbound, 500 feet above.”

Skyhawk 68E: “Negative contact, but I’m looking.”

Washington Center: “Piper 123, traffic 10 o’clock, 10 miles, northbound, 500 feet below.”

Piper 123: “Negative contact, but we’re looking too.”

A few minutes pass.

Washington Center: “Skyhawk 68E previously called traffic is now one o’clock, 3 miles, and my monitor has your course merging in two minutes.”

Just as the two of us are passing each other:

Skyhawk 68E: “Washington Center I have traffic on TCAS and in sight.”

Washington Center: “Piper 123 also has you in sight and wants you to know there’s some dirt on top of your right wing.”

Skyhawk 68E: “Thank you Center, and please tell the Piper that his nose tire looks a bit low.”

We all had a good laugh about it.

John Podraza
Jacksonville, NC

While getting ready for my commercial checkride I was practicing intensively with daily flights of at least a couple of hours. Due to the time constraints and availability of school aircraft I was flying during the same hours of the day so I got to work with the same Boston approach controller.

Once on a particularly busy day I got, “Sir, could you please move out of my airspace, I have intense arrivals to Boston Logan.”

I respectfully obliged.

On the day of the exam my examiner announced to Boston approach that it was a checkride and we proceeded with the routine. When we finished the following exchange occurred:

Boston Approach: “Piper 827ND, did your student pass?”

My examiner: “Yes. Why?”

Boston Approach: “Thank you for passing him so he no longer clutters my airspace!”

Artem Grush
Boston, MA

Recently, while departing a busy Class D airport with a student on a training flight, I heard an inbound pilot make an initial call to the tower, reporting his position, the ATIS code and that he was a student pilot. He sounded good on the radio on what must have been the outbound leg of a student cross country. Tower responded that he should enter a downwind and all seemed right with the world.

About 5 minutes later, tower cleared another light GA airplane to land, noting that the winds were pretty much right down the runway at 12 gusting to 17.

At that point, the inbound student pilot, who hadn’t yet reached the downwind, called the tower and reported that he had a problem. His instructor had restricted him from landing on his cross country flights if any gusts were reported. You could tell he was figuring that he’d have to trundle home without landing or accomplishing his cross-country goal.

Tower didn’t miss a beat: “Cessna XXX, I think you misheard me, there are no gusts, the wind is at 15 knots.”

The student didn’t miss a beat either: “Tower, thanks, I’m entering the downwind now.”

The problem of the overly restrictive cross country endorsement was solved.

Sometimes the partnership between pilots and ATC is a beautiful thing indeed.

Scott Dyer
Pleasantville, NY

I recently heard the following between Kansas City Center and an Airliner. The airliner was trying to top some weather and had been granted an even altitude even though he was flying west, because he was too heavy to go any higher.

Kansas City Center: “Airliner 123, how long ’til you can go up? I have to sell this “wrong way” to Denver.”

Airliner: “About 15 minutes.”

Slight pause, then:

Kansas City Center: “Well, what do you know? I told Denver you were the pride of the fleet and it’s your birthday, and he took it. Contact Denver Center on 133.9.”

Airliner: “How did you know?”

Don Stansberry
Huntsville, TN

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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here