On the Air: March 2017


On a recent flight from Caldwell, NJ (KCDW) to Rockland, ME (KRKD) in my Baron, I heard on the frequency that a jet pilot was unable to find a fix that the controller saw on his departure route and had given to the pilot. When the pilot questioned the presence of the fix on the chart, the controller came back with, “I just don’t know, these things were written by someone with a strange sense of humor.”

Jim LaBagnara
Caldwell, NJ

Several years ago, I was flying into St. Petersburg during the NCAA Final Four. There was quite a bit of traffic and the Goodyear blimp was circling the domed stadium in which the games would be played, about one mile from the field. On the way into Albert Whitted Field, I had the following exchange:

Tower: “7639 Foxtrot. Cleared to land Runway 36.”

Me: “Cleared to land Runway 36. Blimp traffic in sight.”

Tower: “I didn’t call the blimp traffic.”

Me: “I know but I’ve always wanted to say, ‘Blimp traffic in sight.'”

John Moore
Vero Beach, FL

I fly a rather obscure aircraft for the Coast Guard: the HC-144, a twin turboprop about the size of a Dash 8. With the Coast Guard call-sign it is also often assumed we are a helicopter, resulting in the following exchanges throughout my time:

While at 15,000 feet, 225 TAS: “What type helicopter is that, a Chinook?”

While on approach:

Approach: “Cessna 123 follow the Coast Guard helicopter. Number two for the runway.”

Us: “Approach, we’re a twin turboprop.”

Approach: “Roger, sorry. Cessna 123, follow the light twin.”

Close enough.

While landing:

Tower: “Coast Guard, cleared direct to the ramp, landing at your own risk.”

Me: “Well, I could maybe do that once but I’d prefer the runway.”

Tower: “Ah, I take it you’re fixed wing!”

LT Nathan Souleret
Coast Guard Air Station Miami, FL

Flying our Cessna Caravans into Chicago O’Hare daily, frequently provides some interesting situations. Our redline is 175 knots and most of our planes can only do 150 knots in level flight. The controllers there are absolutely amazing and do what they can to make use of the fact that we are small and nimble. Here are a couple examples:

On one flight we were pushing 160 plus knots a mile from Runway 10C, their main long runway on the south. The captain worked his way through all the flaps, set it down on the numbers and made the first turn off. We were rewarded with, “You are cleared to sequence and taxi in front of the regional jet that landed before you and is still taxing back on the parallel taxiway.”

On another flight we were navigating the usual controlled/organized chaos taxing to our gate when:

Ground: “Weber XXX, can you beat the 737 on your left? Wait, I see you already have. How about the regional ahead on your left?”

My First Officer replies: “No problem, we’re on it.”

Ground: “Thanks. You are cleared ahead of them and to your gate.”

The First Officer (from Texas, complete with cowboy boots and a sense of humor), transmits a quick: “Yee Haw.”

Bruce Belling
Waukee, IA

I had the following exchange with Miami Center:

Center: “NXXXX, do you have time for a question?”

Me: “Sure, go ahead.”

Center: “We were wondering if you are the famous comedian Rich Little?”

Me: “No relation and I’m not that funny.”

Rich Lytle
Naples, FL

Seattle has the HAWKZ arrival, after their football team, the Seahawks. On that arrival are a couple fixes honoring another institution in Seattle, Starbucks Coffee: LATAY and COFAY. Of course, the PIKEZ intersection is an obvious reference to the Pike Place Market. I love finding these buried gems.

Sal Cruz
Watsonville, CA

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.


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