Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Most Useless Radio Calls Ever

I'm flying over the prairies, somewhere approximately on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. I'm monitoring and making occasional position reports on 126.7. This is the frequency used by pilots all across Canada whenever they are not in controlled airspace or in a mandatory frequency area. That means that most airborne Canadians are on this frequency. And there's a lot of very flat land in this area, with nothing to stop the VHF transmissions. I can hear position reports from Wetaskiwin to Meadow Lake. There's a long silence on the frequency, with everyone settled in to wherever they have to go, and then a pilot checks in. I think he gave type and registration, but the only content of the call was,

"I'm over the lake."

He wasn't alone, however. Someone else replied,

"I'm over the town, flying runway heading."

They were evidently talking to one another, and this exchange made sense to them, but it was pretty amusing to me.


SwL_Wildcat said...

How about "Position report for Xray Yankee Zulu, currently 128 miles north of Edmonton, level at ninty five, enroute to Yellowknife. Any conflicts Xray Yankee Zulu on twenty six seven."

These drive me nuts.

Geekzilla said...

Reminds me of a phone call I once overheard:

"Hey. It's me. Is that you?"

Anonymous said...

Got one to add.

The phrase "with you". Another useless phrase.

I know why people say it, but there is more proper phraseology available.

GPS_Direct said...

OK, I'm guilty of using "with you..." That and occasionaly starting out with "And" as in: "And, XYZ Tower, Cessna 123AB is..." Must wanna sound like the captains (little c) on the PA.

Now, I DO have a problem with folks coming into non-towered airports - when the CTAF is packed with students in the pattern (or circuit) making position call out the wazoo - and asking for "traffic advisories" or "what's the active?"

Of course, you have to balance them with the nuckleheads in the pattern that just say "123DF turning base..." To what? Runway 6, 24, 11, 29, or the 18W or 36W???? Left base or right base? And are you the Cessna I'm following, or some guy in an ultralight I don't see? Very helpful call. Thanks.

eric said...

The most recent of these I heard was a guy on CTAF reporting "5 miles west of your position". Really? Whose position?

borealone said...

what always amuses me are how the 'long silences' are broken when someone checks in...there's always a cascade of other pilots who get the prompt and check in as well.

Michael said...

My flight instructor suggested (with a bit of mischief in mind I am sure) to have fun with the folks who make the "any traffic in the area please advise" call by answering anonymously.



Anonymous said...

Or people who say they're above Lake Fubar, which is about the size of a thumbtack, in a lake-infested area, and not labelled on the VNC.

One of these days I'm gonna announce my position:

"I'm directly beneath the sun riiiiight..... now."

Hamish said...

For years I've had to endure what I call The Bob channel over California's Central Valley which has much the same sort of radio traffic on it. The worst transmissions, though, tend to be the ones that go on and on (and on) until you realise the supposed position report is nothing more than a rambling admission they don't know where the hell they are.

"Bob? Bob? Is that you? I'm over Modesto. Or is it Merced?"

Wayne Conrad said...

How about, "I've got him on TCAS?" That may be very comforting to the pilot, but in the U.S., at least, it doesn't do ATC any good. ATC can't assign you visual separation unless you've got the traffic with your own, non-electronic eyeballs.

LemonJelly said...

Blogger SwL_Wildcat said...

"How about "Position report for Xray Yankee Zulu, currently 128 miles north of Edmonton, level at ninty five, enroute to Yellowknife. Any conflicts Xray Yankee Zulu on twenty six seven."

These drive me nuts."

That sounds like a textbook position report, what drives you nuts about that?

SwL_Wildcat said...

I know it sounds textbook, but the report is 128 miles away from a major center. If you are in their general area odds are you are not going to know how far from Edmonton you are. (IE a local flight from Slave Lake or Calling Lake) A better call would be 20 miles east of Slave Lake, or 5 miles west of Calling Lake. North by 128 miles is very vague as to a radial. They could mean due north, NNW, NNE... Yellowknife is not due north of Edmonton its 357 degrees true, so if he's going direct he is either off course, or giving a lousy position report. The pilot thinks he's giving a proper position report, and technically he is, but it could be so much better to be actually usable. I personally never give a position report with reference to anything that is more than 20 miles away from me, unless I am calling my arrival airport for a code and I am giving them how far out I am.

LemonJelly said...

Good point. Thanks for the clarification.