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This story is TRUE: told by the pilot and confirmed by ATC.
Southend ATC: National 676 - Cleared for takeoff; report passing 2000ft.
NAA676: Cleared for takeoff; call you passing 2000.
NAA676: Southend, 676 is passing 2000, climbing
Southend: 676 call London 128.6
NAA676: To London 128.6 - see you on the way home.
(in the process of changing freq. 676 loses the door - yes the DOOR on a BE90)
NAA676: Mayday, Mayday, Mayday London Control this is National 676, 4 miles west of Southend, 2500 ft - I've lost the door and am returning climbing to 4000 ft and returning to Southend.
London ATC: NAA 676, roger. Are you in control of the Aircraft?
NAA676: No more than usual !!!!

About five years ago I worked at an FBO in Atlanta on the line. The Sales Dept. would let us ferry a/c whenever they had something we could handle, so I ended up ferrying a Saratoga out to Johnson Co. Executive about 20 or so miles south of Kansas City.

The guy to whom I delivered the plane flew me over to Kansas City Int'l in a Malibu to hop a Delta flight back to Atlanta. Real nice day, about dusk, and we were being vectored into a long line of airliners in order to land......

KC Appch: "Malibu 229, you're following a 727, one o'clock and three miles."

Us: "We've got him. We'll follow him."

KC Appch: "Delta 105, your traffic to follow is a Malibu, eleven o'clock and three miles. Do you have that traffic?"

Delta 105: (long pause, and in a thick southern drawl) "Wwweelllll, I've got something down there. Can't quite tell if it's a Malibu or a Chevelle, though."

My favorite ATC story involves an old-timer who would get rather excited when it got busy. It seemed as if he would think up zingers at home and use 'em at some convenient moment. Anyway, he's working USA553 westbound and is about to turn him over to Cleveland...

Controller: USA353 (sic) contact Cleveland Center 135.6.

Controller: USA353 contact Cleveland Center 135.6!

Controller: USA353 you're just like my wife -- you never listen!

Pilot: Center, this is USA553, maybe if you called her by the right name you'd get a better response!

ATC: "N123YZ, say altitude."


ATC: "N123YZ, say airspeed."


ATC: "N123YZ, say cancel IFR."

N123YZ: "Eight thousand feet, one hundred fifty knots indicated."

Anyway, I heard these two on the air this week:

(Scene 1: It's night over Las Vegas, information H (Hotel) is current and Mooney 33W is unfamiliar and talking to approach control)

Approach: 33W confirm you have hotel.

33W: Uhhhmm, we're flying into McCarren International. Uhhhmm, we don't have a hotel room yet.

Approach control was laughing too hard to respond. The next several calls went like this:

Approach: United 5, descend to FL220.

United 5: United 5 down to FL220; we don't have a hotel room either.

"This is McCarren International departure information Delta. 2100 zulu, [weather, approach information, notams, etc., etc.] Arriving aircraft contact approach at 118... [silence] You lousy machine, why do you always do this to me?"
Q: How many Northwest pilots does it take to fly a DC-9?

A: Two, and a fifth

Hmm. Sounds like an offshoot of Exxon tanker jokes to me.

How do you send a 2 dimensional man to New York? By Plane.

What side of the plane should he sit on?

What's the difference between American pilots and Iraqi pilots?

American pilots break ground and fly into the wind.

A couple of TAC pilots were flying F-102's in escort with a B-36 bomber and were chinning with the pilot of the bomber to pass the time. Talk fell to the subject of the relative merits of their respective aircraft with the fighter pilots holding that their planes made for more interesting flying because of their manueverability, acceleration and the like. The B-36 pilot replied "Yeh? Well this old girl can do a few tricks you guys can't even touch." Naturally, he was challenged to demonstrate. "Watch," he tells them.

After several minutes the bomber pilot returns to the air and says, "There! How was that?" Not having seen anything, the fighter pilots say, "What are you talking about?" Reply, "Well, I went for a little stroll, got a cup of coffee and went downstairs for a chat with the navigator."

NW is working with Boeing to develop a/c specific to their needs.

Their first one will be the 7&7......

Heard last weekend at Palo Alto while I was inbound from Leslie Salt:

PAO Twr: "Mooney 23D, traffic is a Cherokee just entering downwind from the left 45."

Mooney 23D: "Uhhh, tower, 23D...only traffic I see is a Cessna."


PAO Twr: "Mooney 23D, follow your traffic directly ahead, an, um, inverted Cherokee just abeam the numbers." :)

Leaving Palo Alto on Friday. A Citabria had just landed:

PAO: 85 Uniform, Taxi to position and hold.

Me: Position and hold, 85 Uniform.

Citabria: Umm, Tower, there's a dead seagull on the right side of the runway near the windsock.

PAO: Roger. 85 Uniform, cleared for takeoff. Watch for a dead seagull on the right side of the runway.

Me: 85 Uniform, Dead seagull traffic in sight.

A little later, the Citabria was downwind when I heard:

PAO: Citabria 123, cleared to land 30. Caution - there's a buzzard trying to eat the seagull on the runway.

Extracted from the UK CAA GASIL (general aviation safety info leaflet) Dec 1991.

Lady Radar Controller: "Can I turn you on at 7 miles?"

Airline Captain: "Madam, you can try."

Pilot: "Golf Juliet Whiskey, request instructions for takeoff"

Persons unknown: "Open the throttle smoothly, check temperatures and pressures rising, keep the aircraft straight using ....."

Student pilot (who forgot to ask for surface wind) "Please pass wind"
Lost student pilot: "Unknown airport with Cessna 150 circling overhead, identify yourself"
Tower: "Alpha Charlie, climb to 4000 ft for noise abatement"

AC: "How can I possibly be creating excess noise at 2000 ft?"

Tower: "At 4000 ft you will miss the twin coming at you at 2000 ft, and that is bound to avoid one hell of a racket".

I went out to do some touch and goes today, and the ATIS ended with a slight twist......

"...altimeter 29.93. VFR departures advise ground control of destination and altitude and you play golf."

Coincedentally, I called up right behind a KC-10 that was getting ready to go. The exchange was;

"Wilmington ground, Cessna 54360 at ISO (the FBO ramp) with about a 14 handicap, request tee time for the pattern."

[delay.....squelch breaks with laughter.......]

"Cessna 360 taxi to runway 24 behind the 10 iron, number 2 for takeoff, he's a scratch golfer."

Seems that the controller (a trainee) wasn't privy to the ATIS tagline, and his supervisor got a BIG kick out of all this.

At the end of a long, bumpy ride from upstate New York to Charleston, WV several weeks ago, I heard CRW approach talking to someone:

CRW - "By the way, N12345, I'd like to personally commend and thank you for that outstanding effort in restoring functionality to your transponder..." (background guffaws from several controller co-workers)

Conducting fuel-consumption tests on a new twin-engine plane, we were en route from Pennsylvania to Florida. Just north of Richmond, Va., I called the air-traffic controller to make a position report on our plane, whose designation was 5000Y. The controller, in a Southern drawl, replied, "Oh, no, not again!" I was puzzled by the response until I realized what I had said: "We are 5000 Yankee, 25 miles north of Richmond." -- Joe Diblin
Several years ago I heard a pilot check in with approach control with the following (names changed because I don't remember them):

[said with an exaggerated Southern drawl]

Birdseed Approach, Barnburner 123 with you at seven thousand, with Information -- excuse the expression -- Yankee.

I heard this exchange between Baltimore Approach and a C-172 about 3pm on March 1st. I missed the first part of the exchange, but the part I did hear follows. The tail number has been changed to protect the guilty...

Balto: N12345, Type of aircraft?

N12345: Cessna 172

Balto: N12345, sqwalk 54xx, cleared to enter the TCA.

N12345: I don't really want to go through the TCA, I'm going north. I just want flight following.

Balto: Ok, N12345, resume own navigation.

N12345: What?

Balto: N12345, resume own navigation.

N12345: I don't understand.

Balto: (very slowly) R e s u m e o w n n a v i g a t i o n.

N12345: What does that mean?

Balto: It means you do the navigating.

N12345: Oh. Ok.

Balto: N12345, are you aware you're approaching R-4001?

N12345: Uh, no. That's why I want flight following.

Balto: Oh. Which way do you want to go around it?

N12345: Which way can I go?

Balto: West or east.

N12345: I'll go west.

Balto: N12345, I suggest you find I-95 and stay west of it. Ok?

N12345: Uh, ok...west of I-95. Thanks.

My primary instructor always told me that I fly like that famous Chinese pilot, Wan Wing Lo.

The Cat & Duck Method of IFR Flying:

Today's flight age is an era highlighted with increasing emphasis on safety. Instrumentation in the cockpit and in the traffic control tower has reached new peaks of electronic perfection to assist the pilot during take-offs , flight , and landings. For whimsical contrast to these and other marvels of scientific flight engineering , it is perhaps opportune to remind pilots of the basic rules concerning the so-called Cat-and-Duck Method of Flight , just in case something goes wrong with any of these new-fangled flying instruments you find in today's aircraft.

Place a live cat on the cockpit floor. Because a cat always remains upright , he or she can be used in lieu of a needle and ball. Merely watch to see which way the cat leans to determine if a wing is low and , if so , which one.

The duck is used for the instrument approach and landing. Because any sensible duck will refuse to fly under instrument conditions, it is only necessary to hurl your duck out of the plane and follow her to the ground.

There are some limitations to the Cat-and-Duck Method, but by rigidly adhering to the following check list , a degree of success will be achieved.

  • Get a wide-awake cat. Most cats do not want to stand up at all, at any time. It may be necessary to get a large fierce dog in the cockpit to keep the cat at attention.
  • Make sure your cat is clean. Dirty cats will spend all their time washing. Trying to follow a cat licking itself usually results in a tight snap roll, followed by an inverted (or flat) spin. You can see this is very unsanitary.
  • Old cats are best. Young cats have nine lives, but an old used-up cat with only one life left has just as much to lose an you do and will therefore be more dependable.
  • Beware of cowardly ducks. If the duck discovers that you are using the cat to stay upright - or straight and level- she will refuse to leave without the cat. Ducks are no better on instruments than you are.
  • Be sure the duck has good eyesight. Nearsighted ducks sometimes will go flogging off into the nearest hill. Very short-sighted ducks will not realize they have been thrown out and will descend to the ground in a sitting position. This maneuver is quite difficult to follow in an airplane.
  • Use land-loving ducks. It is very discouraging to break out and find yourself on final approach for some farm pound in Iowa. Also, the farmers there suffer from temporary insanity when chasing crows off their corn fields and will shoot anything that flies.
  • Choose your duck carefully. It is easy to confuse ducks with geese because many water birds look alike. While they are very competent instrument flyers , geese seldom want to go in the same direction you do. If your duck heads off for the Okefenokee Swamp, you may be sure you have been given the goose.

Back To Jokes


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