Posts Tagged ‘flying’

Call Sign Confusion

June 26, 2008

Always in poor weather and often otherwise, when I fly I will put myself in the hands of Air Traffic Control. This puts me on the same radio frequency as airlines and corporate flights.

When talking on the radio, most of us ‘regular’ pilots identify ourselves by the type of aircraft, followed by the plane’s full (or after contact, shortened) registration number. So when talking to Air Traffic Control, I may be “Cessna 7-3-Bravo” (more on the fun of the phonetic alphabet another time).

Airlines and corporate flights are almost the same, but they get to use more fun names in place of the type of aircraft. And the airlines use their flight number instead of their registration number.

Some airlines are proud of their name and heritage, so listening on the radio you’ll hear—“American 4-1-2-1” or “Aeromexico 2-0-7”

Other airlines, no less proud of their name, still use other identifiers for their flights—“Speedbird 2-7-9” (British Airways) or “Springbok 3-9-4” (South African Airways)

Corporate flights vary in the same way—“Ford 1-7-Foxtrot” (Ford Motor Company) or “Air Johnson 3-7-4” (for Johnson Air)

And some relate to individual people—“Shepherd 1” (that would be the Pope’s jet) or “Unicorn 1” (Prince of Wales)

So, on a flight a few years back, I was surprised to hear a call sign I’d not heard before. I had to listen closely to hear it again. Then asked my passenger to confirm what I’d heard. I later looked it up and could not find an official call sign, so the mystery deepened and continues.

So I ask you, gentle reader… who do you think is being flown in an airplane with the call sign identifier: “Cross Dresser”?


Trick Questions

May 14, 2008

As an adventure, I am pursuing my commercial pilot’s license.  Fear not, you won’t be hearing my maniacal laughter from the front of your airline jet.  This is more for me as a deputy-adjacent-assistant-auxiliary-part time career excursion.


Aside from the flying and the book knowledge, at this level there are also application questions… given a situation, can I resolve a problem knowing the rules, but thinking beyond them as well.


I did great on some and so-so on others.  Here are a couple of the latter.  Just for fun, I’m intrigued to hear how you would reply.  There are no ‘right’ answers, per se.  The instructor’s answers (and mine) are at the end – – –


1)              You are the first officer (co-pilot) on a flight crew.  You have a flight with a layover in a distant city and are in your hotel room.  There is a knock at the door of your hotel room.  You open the door… and there stands your Captain in a dress and high heels, asking you out to dinner.  What should you do?


2)             [For this one, you need to know the rule—8 hours from bottle to throttle… no alcohol within 8 hours of flying]  You have a long flight with another layover.  You were delayed due to weather and have to do the return flight in just 7 hours.  You call room service from your hotel room only to find they are closed, but they offer that the bar is still serving appetizers.  Scooting down to the bar, you walk in to see your Captain sitting at the bar with a drink in hand.  What should you do?



Question 1)  My answer:  I’d make sure his shoes matched his dress, compliment him, and politely decline.


Instructor’s answer:  Compliment her and grab your coat to go to dinner with her.


The Point?:  Think out of the box.  But, don’t be presumptuous.  This also checks to see, can you (candidate pilot) recognize and accept that women can and are in the Captain’s seat nowadays?  Maybe this one is easier for women…or younger men…  But a lady friend I quizzed on this made the same presumption as I.


Question 2)  My answer:  Taking to heart not being presumptuous [Ed. Note:  See!?!  I can learn!], I’d say to her, “Having a Pepsi, huh?  I think I’ll have a Ginger Ale.”  Then let her admit otherwise.


Instructor’s answer:  Sit down next to the Captain and tell the bartender, “I’ll have what she’s having.”


The Point?  I like the instructor’s answer.  Less confrontational than my answer, yet still allows me to find out quickly if there’s alcohol (in which case we both get blasted for the evening, cancel the flight, and likely get canned).