Jay Maynard (jmaynard) wrote,
Jay Maynard

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ATC isn't always stuffy

Normally, air traffic control is quite businesslike, and radio communications with them are brisk, efficient, and professional.

Not always. They're people too, and like to have fun on the job as much as the next guy.

AVweb posted this conversation in their ATC humor column this week. Background for non-pilots: Approach control is the ATC facility that gets aircraft lined up to land at a particular airport in an orderly manner. They sequence them in, get them set up to land on a particular runway, and hand them off to the control tower when they're within a few miles. Austin Bergstrom International Airport has two runways, designated (in this case) 17L(eft) and 17R(ight). A localizer is a radio navigation system that, when flown properly, will lead an inbound aircraft to fly directly to the runway and in the proper direction to land on it. The outer marker is a specific spot on the localizer.

A few years ago, I was routinely flying my Bonanza from Houston Hobby to Austin. The trip was normally very predictable, including the knowledge that radio traffic, when handed over to Austin Approach, was extremely busy and communications needed to be very efficient. On one trip, the Approach controller changed those rules and added some levity.

"Bonanza 56W, turn right, heading 350. I hate to tell you this, but you're number 9 for landing, and I have to send you up to Georgetown."

Bonanza 56W (me) :
"No problem; those Boeings have a lot more passengers than I do."

"56W, what speed can you give me to the outer marker?"

Bonanza 56W:
"I can give you 150 knots."

"Great. If you can do that, I'll give you a kiss. Turn left, heading 280, and join the localizer 17L."

Bonanza 56W:
"Left to 280, join the localizer 17L, and I'll pass on the kiss."


Southwest 123:
"SW 123 checking in on the localizer 17R. And we'll pass on the kiss, too."

[Other aircraft check in and add to the laughter.]

"Hey, I'm getting my feelings hurt here! SW 123, ask one of your flight attendants if they would like the kiss."

SW 123:
"Stand by."

[After a few moments ... .]

SW 123:
"Approach, SW 123. One of our flight attendants will meet you on the ground for the kiss. His name is Kevin."

John Yates
via e-mail

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