On The Air: August 2017


Getting the automated ATIS voice to say the right thing frequently makes it funny in a text version of the ATIS. At San Francisco, a NOTAM regarding AT&T Park on the text version became, “Eight Tee and Tee Park.”

Rick Sanders
San Francisco

This happened many years ago when I was a helicopter instructor working from John Wayne Airport (KSNA).

As a helo pilot, I’m a bottom feeder, not usually talking to anyone other than tower folk. But as a conscientious instructor, I tried to expose my students to other forms of ATC.

I was flying with a particularly weak student doing off-airport operations. We were combining high-altitude ops with a pinnacle approach to Pleasants Peak, at 4007 MSL. I wanted this student to call SoCal Approach for a brief bit of flight following to the mountain. I told my student exactly what to say to SoCal. “SoCal Approach, this is helicopter 8490D, 5 south of Pleasants Peak for flight following at 4000 feet.”

I coached this student a couple times on exactly what to say and he repeated it back flawlessly. But did he say that? Oh no. He called SoCal, “SoCal Approach, this is helicopter 8490D, 5 south of Pleasants Peak.” So far so good.

But wait, snatching defeat from the arms of victory, he continued, “I’d like flight following at 4007 feet.”

What? Where did I go wrong?

SoCal came back, barely able to control his laughter, “8490D, what’s wrong with 4006, or 4008?”

Bob Lancaster
Oviedo, FL

Long ago (and far away), I was flying my homebuilt Glasair I RG from the Atlanta area to Destin, Florida, on a typical hot, muggy day in the Southeast in July. This was before I had installed a Stormscope in this plane so I was at the mercy of ATC to keep me out of the worst of the weather. Atlanta Approach had given me a number of vectors to miss the heaviest of the rain but then I moved on to another sector and I got no further vectors. Finally I was handed off to Cairns Approach (Ft. Rucker, Alabama). My experience with Cairns has been that they are very pro-active in giving weather-avoidance vectors. When I checked in with Cairns Approach, I was in pretty heavy rain and the first thing he said was, “What are you doing in there?”

I laughed and said, “I’m looking for help to get out of this stuff!”

And, he proceeded to give the weather avoidance vectors I needed.

Bill Castlen
Dothan, AL

In one of the article manuscripts IFR Contributing Editor Elaine Kauh submitted, she had an interesting typo: “altidude.” I asked her about it and suggested perhaps that it’s the safety pilot you take along to keep you honest, or it could be just the altitude alerter. Then, it might just be a tall passenger, or perhaps it’s the approach controller who gives you the descents and vectors…

Chagrined by her mistake, Elaine said it was really what they call the guy in the Cirrus who tells you, “500” after the FAF.

Frank Bowlin
Santa Fe, NM

I was flying through central California, when just after an aircraft checked on, there was a pause for a controller change as evidenced by a different voice on the frequency. Subsequently, the last aircraft to check on with the relieved controller called up:

Cessna 123: “Cessna 123, radio check.”

Oakland: “Cessna 123, loud and clear.”

Cessna 123: “O.K., just checking, sounded like a different controller.”

Oakland: “Affirmative. Different controller. Better controller.”

Chris Lumsdaine
Lompoc, CA

On a recent recurrent training flight, my CFI and I were holding short of KSBA’s Runway 25 at Mike when an Eclipse Jet departed in front of us. The tower controller advised that we should continue to hold for wake turbulence. There was a six knot crosswind, so I told the tower controller that we would waive the wake turbulence hold and were ready to go. The Eclipse pilot responded, “Aw come on guys, that’s insulting!”

Len Homeniuk
Santa Barbara, CA

We got this out, but hit bottom again. Don’t want 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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