Clearing up Confusion Between Pilots and ATC

Palmpilot

Touchdown! Greaser!
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Richard Palm
One of the things my first flight instructor taught me was "If you think the controller has you mixed up with another aircraft, make a position report."

That advice has consistently served me well for the past 32 years, including on my private-pilot checkride. I was approaching the airport for the final landing of the day, and the tower started informing me of traffic at essentially my position. I looked all around, including for shadows on the surface, and didn't find anything. Then the examiner pointed to another aircraft, whose position made it clear that I was the traffic being reported, and the other pilot was the one the controller thought they were talking to.

A second case was something like six or seven years ago, and I was on the landing rollout when the controller told me to turn base.

The third and last example was last Friday, and the controller had said that he would call my base. By the time my downwind had gotten pretty far extended, a pilot behind me was told to turn base and replied that they had been instructed to follow me.

In all three cases, I reported my position, which cleared up the confusion right away.

I don't know if this is something that all instructors teach, but it sure has worked for me.
 
Yep, sometimes they forget about ya. I was working a C414 at 7,000 going into HXD one time. His transponder dropped early on and I’ve got my feet kicked up talking to another controller. Next thing I know, he’s reporting HXD in sight. I frantically scan the scope and see a primary maybe 7-8 miles out. I clear him for the VA and apologize for keeping him high. I was ticked. Just completely let my guard down during light traffic.

Another thing, if you’re still up approach and penetrate the D or core of the C, they’ve most likely forgotten about ya. I usually give a gentle wake up request to switch to tower.
 
I had a controller not notice similar call signs once…he was giving vectors to “53E”. I finally asked if he was talking to King Air 53E or Cherokee 53E.
 
I was holding short of the runway the other day and the controller said, "Decathlon five sierra echo, runway 3, cleared for takeoff."

I started rolling and acknowledged, "Citabria five five echo, cleared for takeoff three."

The controller chuckled and said, "Sorry about that; I misread the ground controller's handwriting -- his '5' looks like an 'S'."

Thinking about it later, I likely should have stayed put until the confusion was straightened out, even though my airplane was the only taildragger operating out there, and it would have been an unlikely coincidence for there to be both a "55E" and a "5SE" waiting to take off. But stranger things have happened.

And I'll give the controller a pass for elevating my humble 7ECA to a mighty Decathlon. :tongue::D
 
Yep, sometimes they forget about ya. I was working a C414 at 7,000 going into HXD one time. His transponder dropped early on and I’ve got my feet kicked up talking to another controller. Next thing I know, he’s reporting HXD in sight. I frantically scan the scope and see a primary maybe 7-8 miles out. I clear him for the VA and apologize for keeping him high. I was ticked. Just completely let my guard down during light traffic.

Another thing, if you’re still up approach and penetrate the D or core of the C, they’ve most likely forgotten about ya. I usually give a gentle wake up request to switch to tower.
Well if its confession time, there was that time I forgot a plane was holding short waiting for take off clearance. But I had Aces around, a twenty pounder and 60 meld.
 
Another thing, if you’re still up approach and penetrate the D or core of the C, they’ve most likely forgotten about ya. I usually give a gentle wake up request to switch to tower.
I routinely have to do this when on flight following.
I usually say something like: "Arrow 123 has the field in sight"
95% of the time it's followed by an immediate "contact tower" and occasionally a "sorry" :)
 
I used to fly a T-41B, N98189, controllers were always screwing up that number. Sometimes I would answer them, sometimes I would not, other times I would ask, "Was that for 98189?"

I hate when the Arrow III I am flying gets called a Warrior. But the end of the tail number is "ND", and the local flight school has a lot of old Univ of North Dakota aircraft, both Warriors and Arrows.
 
Been in the situation where Nxx733, and N733 were being worked by the same controller. Both aircraft were Cessna. Made for some interesting conversation for a minute or two.
 
I routinely have to do this when on flight following.
I usually say something like: "Arrow 123 has the field in sight"

Yeah..."field in sight" is the universal but polite "hey dumbazz...did you forget about me?" call when you need a handoff...use it quite frequently "in sight" or not...
 
My tail number is 5660U

Don’t know how many times I’ve had to say “there ain’t no Oscar’s in a November call sign.”

Stupid controllers.
 
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