On The Air: November 2017


While traveling into Valdez, Alaska for the annual fly-in and STOL competition, a couple of planes were trying to hurry in before the airspace closed for aerobatic practice. A couple minutes after tower gave “best forward speed” instructions to a Lake amphibian (not known for great forward speed), the following exchange was heard:

Tower: “Lake 123 you’re doing great, just keep pedaling harder.”

Lake 123: “I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!”

Jim Freeman
Mobile, AL

Santa Barbara Municipal Airport has intersecting runways. Runway 7/25 handles all of the airlines and most private jets while the parallel 15/33 pair is for private piston aircraft—long as the normal westerly winds cooperate.

Juggling the vast differences in approach speeds and timing on the intersecting runways requires a lot of skill and experience on the part of the tower controllers; some call it almost an art. However, we are fortunate that the tower crew is almost always on their A game, even when training the rare “newbie.”

Most local pilots help the tower’s coordination on a busy day when on final to Runway 15 L or R, to plan to land long, crossing the intersection with 25 before touchdown. This allows a fast approaching commercial airliner a little more breathing room. This is especially helpful when training aircraft, mostly 152/172’s and the like, are doing repeated pattern work. The local CFIs and the tower staff have a familiar and great working relationship and it pays dividends to both.

Several years ago, as I was on approach to 15 in my Baron and as my approach speed was faster than normal, tower told me to slow down and square my base turn to final due to a 172 landing on Runway 15. I confirmed the instructions and before I could do anything, a familiar instructor voice called the tower saying, “Cessna XYZ will be making a poetic landing to help the Baron.”

Tower’s response, of course was, “What is a poetic landing?”

“A Longfellow,” the instructor replied.

Everybody on frequency gave a mic-click laugh at that one.

Ronald Hays
Santa Barbara, CA

Recently my student and I were IFR to Jacksonville, Florida. We were monitoring, “guard,” on 121.5, conditions permitting.

We heard Center call an aircraft on guard asking him to come up on the same frequency we were on several times. I asked the controller if we could give it a try since we were at altitude. She approved that.

We called the Cessna telling him that Center wanted him on 127.85.

The pilot answered right away and called center, requesting direct Key West.

Center replied testily, “I’ll be happy to grant your request once you tell me where you’ve been for the last 45 minutes!”

My student remarked, “I’m sure glad we’re not on the receiving end of that!”

To which I responded, “Amen!”

Fred Simonds
Juno Beach, FL

I’ve owned 5 different airplanes over the past 25 years and recently purchased a Piper Meridian. I was on an Angel Flight with a buddy who had flown with me many times but was taking his first flight in the Meridian. After takeoff, he asked me if I thought I’d ever get another plane. I explained how the Meridian had been a financial stretch and that, “I plan to die owning this airplane.”

At this point I realized that my two Angel Flight passengers were listening in back so I turned around and reassured them, “Don’t worry, today is not going to be that day.”

We then all had a good chuckle.

Charlie Tillett
Wayland, MA

While flying one day in Northern California, I heard the following:

Center: “Cessna 1234 are you planning to pass east or west of Mt. Diablo?”

Cessna: “We’re currently heading south.”

Center: (with a chuckle) “I understand that you’re heading south. But when you pass that mountain ahead, will it be on your left or right side?”

Phil Verghese
Santa Clara, CA

We’re still perilously close to digging in to 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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