I got the dreaded “write down this number to call the FAA” last week. We were flying into Lancaster, south of Dallas, for breakfast. After taking off from my local airport in a V-tail Bonanza in VFR conditions, the predicted scattered clouds at Lancaster turned out to be a low overcast. We were on VFR flight following, so I called DFW approach and got a pop up IFR clearance to shoot the GPS 31 approach. About the time we reached the FAF, we got the call to copy down a phone number.
After scrambling for a pen, and with thoughts of NASA forms in my heard, I copied the phone number. After I wrote it down, and I asked DFW TRACON, “What did we do?”
Their reply,”Call that number on the ground to cancel IFR or cancel in the air.”
Either it was a controller I know who recognized the remnants of my English accent and was playing a trick, or it was someone who hadn’t had their morning coffee yet.
A few years back I was flying a Beech Baron 58 with my brother from Caldwell, NJ to Wilmington, NC on a dark but quiet night. We were just south of the Cape Charles VORTAC with less than the usual radio chatter to entertain us when I heard a tail number that I recognized as being one that was operated by the infamous Jimmy Buffett. The Cessna Caravan was climbing out of nearby Norfolk. I could not resist keying the mike and asking whether or not the singer was aboard.
“No, not tonight,” was the reply from someone with an appropriate southern drawl.
Still unreprimanded by ATC, I further queried as to where the airplane was headed. “It’s amazing,” responded the pilot, “You let go of the control wheel and she picks up a heading of south!”
Lots of mic clicks ensued—what great public relations.
We were descending from the flight levels to land at Blairsville, GA. Talking to Atlanta Center controllers, there was another plane ahead of us also landing at Blairsville. We had received the weather at Andrews Murphey and knew the weather on the other side of the mountain ridge was VFR even though on the South side it was all IFR. Then we heard this exchange between center and another airplane (XYZ).
Atlanta Center: “XYZ say intentions landing Blairsville.”
XYZ: (In a slow syrupy southern drawl) “I’m fixin’ to do some visualization once I get over the mountain ridge.”
Atlanta Center: “XYZ, maybe it’s my radio, but I did not understand you. Say again your intentions landing Blairsville.”
XYZ: “I’m fixin’ to get the visual once I get over the mountain ridge.”
Atlanta Center: “XYZ, let me know if you see the airport.”
Grand Rapids, MI
We were flying over northern Kentucky at FL 410, after having departed from Chicago Midway Airport. Indianapolis Center was seeking altitude information for a balloon launched by Google to test a method for providing WiFi service to remote areas (Project Loon), reportedly somewhere between 50 and 55 thousand feet.
For about fifteen minutes, the controller pointed out the balloon to several aircraft who spotted it, but he didn’t point it out to us.
Finally I said: “Center, 60LJ, question.”
Center: “Zero LJ, go ahead.”
N60LJ: “Just wondering if it was something that I said. You don’t send me flowers. You don’t point out balloons. Do you just not care anymore?”
Center: “Well, I thought you were too far east to see it. But now that you mention it, for now it’s over between us. Go ahead and contact Atlanta Center on…”
Sigh…better to have loved and lost!
St. Petersburg, FL
Flying in Florida I once heard:
Approach: “Fly heading 270 and slow to final approach speed. You’re following a Duchess who could be going a lot faster but is only showing 70 knots over ground…”
With barely enough for each month, we still need more. 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.