Thursday, June 02, 2005

 

Solo Fears

As I approach my first solo flight, I am not concerned about my flying abilities. My only concern is that the control tower will give me an instruction that I don't understand. For example:

Tower: Six-Three-Delta, perform a right kwyjibo without delay.

Me: Say again for Six-Three-Delta.

Tower: Six-Three-Delta, immediate right kwyjibo.

Me: Unable. I do not understand the term "kwyjibo.". Six-Three-Delta

Tower: Six-Three-Delta, "kwyjibo" is a perfectly cromulent instruction.

I hope I'll hear nothing but "Four-Three-Six-Three-Delta, cleared for the option, runway Two-Left," during my first solo flight. I know I can respond to that with "Cleared for the option, Two-Left, Four-Three-Six-Three-Delta." With any other transmission, I'll have to think. Thinking is bad.


Comments:
It's OK to 'fess up when you don't understand. Here are some phrases that will keep you out of trouble: "request clarification", "unfamiliar with [whatever]", "unable", and "request vectors".

You can use any combination of these in your best languid aviator voice, and it will sound like you know what you're doing. That said, you'll be VFR, so there's really not much that they'll throw at you except maybe giving you a weird routing over landmarks you've never heard of (that's when you say "unfamiliar with old Ted's moonshine shack -- request vectors").
 
The best thing to do is get an aviation band receiver, go to your local airport, find a comfortable place to sit for a couple of hours, and just watch the traffic.

If you can do it on a fairly busy day you'll the tower say everything they are likely to say to you, and you'll also learn how to not sound like a dorky pilot.
 
Thanks. I've got a handheld transceiver, and I usually listen to ATC for a while whenever I get to the airport early.

I'm not really worried about it. I was just thinking about the things that could go wrong, and decided that incoming transmissions on the radio are the things over which I'll have the least amount of control.
 
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