On The Air


A few days before Christmas, we heard the following exchange:

Center: “UPS 123, do you have a lot of Christmas gifts in the back?”

UPS 123: “As a matter of fact, we do!”

Center: “All right then, you are cleared direct destination.”

A few seconds later:

Delta 345: “Center this is Delta 345, we have people in the back also with lots of Christmas gifts. Can we have direct as well?”

Center chuckling: “Good one Delta. You are cleared direct to your destination too.”

My copilot didn’t miss a beat, and quickly keyed the mic: “Hey Center, this is ExecJet 678; we have Santa Claus himself on board! Can we have direct too?”

Richard Depinay
Keller, TX

On a Friday afternoon, flying through the Los Angeles basin, the SOCAL frequencies were very busy. This was a classic controller response to a less than professional pilot who stepped on the controller twice and used the inappropriate “with you” at check in.

Piper 12S: (Stepping halfway through on the Controller’s clearance to an American Flight, clearing the flight to a higher altitude at a departure waypoint.) “SOCAL, Piper 12S is with you at 4500.”

American 154: “American 154, SOCAL, say again altitude at POGGI.”

Piper 12S: (Stepping on SOCAL a second time.) “SOCAL, Piper 12S with you (louder this time) at 4500.”

American 154: “SOCAL was that FL230 at POGGI? You were stepped on.”

SOCAL: “American 154, affirmative, flight level 230 at POGGI. Break. Piper 12S, you are definitely not with me or you would be monitoring before breaking into my transmission. All I want from you is your full call sign and altitude after you listen up. Cancel flight following. Squawk 1200. Frequency change approved.”

Piper 12S: “Uh, OK I guess.”

Ronald Hays
Santa Barbara, CA

I always try (albeit sometimes unsuccessfully) to be crisp with ATC trying to take up as little air time as possible. So having flown the last 15 years mostly in a Bonanza with the call sign 3738R, I periodically long for an N-number without the three-syllable “Romeo.”

Earlier this year, I was flying in a dozen-plane airlift of supplies from Austin to Hurricane Harvey victims in Beaumont. Per the organizer’s instructions, we all checked in with ATC (who’d been notified of the airlift ahead of time) as we took off from Austin, identified ourselves as part of the airlift, and received our predetermined routing.

As the fifth plane checked in, Houston Approach said, “Cessna 44M, you have a flight plan on file with the “Compassion” call sign. Would you like to use that call sign or stick with what you’ve got?”

Cessna 44M: “I’ll stick with what I’ve got. Compassion takes too long to say. 44M.”

I scowled briefly with a bad case of short-call-sign envy.

Scott Humphries
Houston, TX

Flying my V-tail Bonanza near Allentown, Pennsylvania airspace en route to Maine, I could see an airliner above me on the CAVU day.

After getting a frequency change from Allentown, I heard on the frequency, “Hey Bonanza, are you a doctor or somethin’?”

A little tired of the Bonanza forked-tail-doctor-killer clich, I curtly responded, “No, I am not a doctor.”

The airline pilot promptly responded, “Well I bet you didn’t sleep in a Motel 6 last night either.”

Frank Becker
Phillipsburg, NJ

Once when I was flying through the Washington, DC Bravo airspace, I overheard the controller requesting several airliners to reduce speed.

When I landed, I had to call the FSDO about the SFRA. I joked about the airliners slowing down and said I could slow my Warrier to an airspeed where F-16 s would fall out of the sky.

The guy laughed and said, “By the way, we’ve got a couple of Blackhawks here too.”

Oh well.

Dick Summer
West Chester, PA

We remain 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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