Don't turn down the volume on the radio.

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Silence isn't golden, Jul 31, 2020.

  1. Took my wife, my daughter and her boyfriend up today for a short flight. Coming back to the airport to land and do all the right things call several miles out, enter on the 45 and call all my turns. Didn't see anyone or hear anyone which is not unusual at my home airport. I look before turning base and then start my turn and as I do another plane is already on base but in tighter than me and shortly after he turns final. So I go around. Come back in and land.

    I went over and talked to the guy. I asked was he on a non-standard pattern as I never saw him. He said nope standard pattern. I said were you on the radio because I never heard him. He said yes he was on the radio. I said did you hear me? He said yes. I said I just don't know what happened. So we talked through it a bit more. Thankfully he was super helpful as I was sincerely eager to find out where the problem occurred.

    So two things, I don't know how I didn't see him when entering the pattern and apparently joined the pattern relatively parallel to him. He was flying a fairly tight pattern so he was well inside me. So lesson there some times under certain circumstances planes are just hard to see if they aren't exactly where you think they are suppose to be. So look harder. So then why didn't I hear him. Finally I figured it out I had turned down the radio to explain something to my passengers a short time before that and never turned it back up. UGH!!!

    I apologized to the guy a couple of times. Thankfully he said he saw and heard me the whole time so there was no danger. See and avoid was working on one side any way. He just didn't know why I was doing what I was doing. Had I had the volume up I would have known he was there even though for whatever reason I didn't see him. I think not seeing him was mostly a timing thing without the audible clue he was there. Had we both been NORDO that might have been more problematic.

    In any case my new policy I am just not going to turn down the volume on the radio and wait for clear spots to talk. Unfortunately around here there are several fairly close airports that share a frequency and there can be a lot of chatter on a nice day like today.
     
    Shepherd, A Martin and NHWannabe like this.
  2. timrb

    timrb Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2008
    Messages:
    207
    Location:
    Central California

    Display name:
    Tim
    Or, for that matter, if they aren't exactly where they think they are. I once traded position reports with another pilot as we both approached an uncontrolled airport. We were mildly puzzled that we never saw each other, but I presume he eventually figured out he landed at the wrong airport.

    Tim
     
    texasclouds, A Martin and eman1200 like this.
  3. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2018
    Messages:
    4,186

    Display name:
    Kenny Phillips
    Same, same ... I turned down my radio on such a day (crisp and windy February), tried to get info from an airport I was approaching, saw a twin take off in what I'd call the wrong direction (but assumed it was correct given that nobody would T/O downwind, right?), tried to land, got nailed with a quartering tailwind gust, and scraped wing paint and propellor on the runway. 120 miles from home. Still have the prop as a souvenir.
     
    A Martin likes this.
  4. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    20,768
    Location:
    Catawba, NC

    Display name:
    FlyingRon
    Yep, I turned down the radio so I could talk to my wife on her first flight in a small plane. What happened next was that I took a turkey buzzard in the wing. I had been in the middle of making my first position call when I interrupted it by saying "Bird" (followed by an expletive). The guy at the unicom heard that, but I didn't hear his response since the radio was turned down.
     
  5. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
    Messages:
    11,802
    Location:
    New England

    Display name:
    PaulS
    BTDT, did this calling into a delta, luckily I figured it out when I heard no one talking and got it fixed before I had to start circling outside his area. I apologized to the controller and all was well. Leave that volume up.
     
  6. Ravioli

    Ravioli Ejection Handle Pulled PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2014
    Messages:
    8,024
    Location:
    Somewhere else

    Display name:
    Unwanted Guest - Perma-ban Pending
  7. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1,895
    Location:
    Louisiana

    Display name:
    Challenged
    I turned down the volume one time with a passenger after landing. I refueled and forgot to turn it back up. I was holding short of the runway preparing to depart and a plane filled my windshield as he landed. I scan for traffic before entering a runway, but it was certainly a valuable lesson.
     
  8. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Messages:
    4,592
    Location:
    Madison, OH

    Display name:
    dtuuri
    Yeacht! Better:

     
  9. catmandu

    catmandu Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Messages:
    1,515
    Location:
    Sierra Nevada

    Display name:
    Catmandu
    If I want to turn a radio down I turn it off. A dark display gives you a fighting chance to correct the situation prior to a blunder.
     
    Huckster79, Lindberg, IK04 and 2 others like this.
  10. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2016
    Messages:
    2,207
    Location:
    CT & NY

    Display name:
    Dana
    I usually turn it down or off. But I also usually check the AWOS/ASOS before switching back to CTAF, so it'd be obvious if the volume was down.
     
  11. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,122
    Location:
    Nashville, TN

    Display name:
    Larry in TN
    Before transmitting, if you haven't heard any transmissions recently, break the squelch first. That verifies that you have everything set correctly to hear the radio and gives you a chance to adjust the volume.
     
    Palmpilot and dtuuri like this.
  12. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2016
    Messages:
    2,207
    Location:
    CT & NY

    Display name:
    Dana
    On my radio (Becker) the squelch is only adjustable with a screwdriver with the radio removed.
     
  13. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,122
    Location:
    Nashville, TN

    Display name:
    Larry in TN
    There's no button to momentarily break the squelch? Without that, how would you pick up a weak signal?

    The Becker units I see on their web site have an "IC/SQL" button which breaks the squelch.
     
  14. dans2992

    dans2992 En-Route PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2013
    Messages:
    3,562

    Display name:
    Dans2992
    Typically, I will just tune a quiet frequency (121.5). I never touch the volume.
     
    jpskies likes this.
  15. Dana

    Dana Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2016
    Messages:
    2,207
    Location:
    CT & NY

    Display name:
    Dana
    Come to think of it, you're right, it's on the power knob (off/sq/on), I just never use that feature...I leave the radio itself on all the time and use the power switch on the panel.
     
  16. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2016
    Messages:
    6,378
    Location:
    KFAR

    Display name:
    Priyo
    how many of you had the volume up, announced all your intentions in the pattern and landed only to find out that you never switched to the right frequency? :p
     
  17. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    5,422
    Location:
    North Carolina once again.

    Display name:
    Tarheelpilot
    A lesson I have learned more than once is to not be complacent if I’m talking on the radio. Lots of simple things can prevent that piece of tech from performing as expected. If I’m talking and no one answers I start looking real hard for the airplane that I’m not seeing.
     
  18. GMascelli

    GMascelli En-Route

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2005
    Messages:
    3,320
    Location:
    Ocean City, MD

    Display name:
    GaryM
    IF for some reason I need to turn the volume down, I never take my fingers off of it until I turn it back up. I turned it down once to better hear the AWOS (on com 2) and then forgot to turn it up. When I noticed it was quiet I caught it and turned the volume up only to hear my tail number. I then was scolded for missing a few calls by ATC. Lesson learned
     
    benyflyguy likes this.
  19. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Messages:
    2,494
    Location:
    Copperas Cove, Texas

    Display name:
    LNXGUY
    I always break the squelch before transmitting on a new frequency. Old military habit...

    No hiss? No talk.
     
    Palmpilot likes this.
  20. A Martin

    A Martin Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2020
    Messages:
    318

    Display name:
    A Martin
    I have an "opposite story" .... a radio transmission that was not meant to happen ... I was training (helicopter) at a very busy (mainly fixed wing) airport where the tower sometimes treated us like orphans.

    My (favorite) instructor was also the school owner and chief pilot and one flight the tower cleared us to hover-taxi to the helipad (2 intersections to cross) .... however a Cessna , who had already been cleared to the main runway held back at the intersection .... probably worried my rotor wash might blow him around or something .

    So there I am , rookie pilot trying to hold a stable hover ... timid Mr Cessna stopped on his taxiway ... so I did the most natural thing and asked my instructor ... "what should I do ? .... He clicked his intercom button and said:

    This useless control tower is staffed by a bunch of civil servant bean counters who make us hover-taxi through two paved taxiways instead of just letting us cross over the green grass from the hangar to the helipad ... and to top it off we have a limp noodle chicken-sitt Cessna guy who must be afraid of us .... so just do what the tower instructed you to do and hold your position .... besides it is good practice for your hover training ... let the iceholes in the tower sort it out.

    About 30 seconds later the radio came on .... "this is the icehole tower ... Cessna hold your position .... helicopter cleared to the helipad.

    The Bell 47 has two radio buttons on the cyclic , one for intercom and one on airport frequency and my instructor mistakenly pressed the airport one and his rant was heard by everybody .

    No wonder they treat us like orphans .... hehe
     
  21. Arnold

    Arnold Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Messages:
    1,384
    Location:
    Philadelphia Area

    Display name:
    Arnold
    My habit as well, but not military, just learned to fly when radios were wonky.
     
    IK04 likes this.
  22. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Messages:
    55,441
    Location:
    Denver, CO

    Display name:
    DenverPilot
    This or the “leave your finger on it if it’s in a position it shouldn’t be” technique. For a quick “huh?” in the audio, my fingers stay on the turned down knob until it’s turned back up again.
     
    GMascelli likes this.
  23. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 En-Route

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2019
    Messages:
    2,594
    Location:
    Tennessee

    Display name:
    CharlieD3
    Somebody on FB asked if radios should be mandatory. If not radios, ADSB out. At all airports no matter the class.

    As VFR, it is our responsibility to see and avoid. I don't think either should be mandated as neither one is more or less reliable than our eyes.

    We can miss visual cues, we may not "see" all aircraft via ADSB, we may not hear all radio calls...

    Sure, one or two of the three should catch something, will that catch be timely?

    No easy answer. But I don't care for mandates much. I abide by them to the best of my abilities.

    But at some point, no flight is SAFE no matter what you do. Do we just quit?

    I know I've been inbound, calling on radio, and had someone outbound calling on radio.... He asked if I "had" him.. I did, and told him his position in relation to me... He could not see me as I was above and behind. We were both more at ease after the radio calls.

    But, I still kept eyes peeled for NORDOS in the pattern... I'm sure he did as well.
     
  24. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Messages:
    55,441
    Location:
    Denver, CO

    Display name:
    DenverPilot
    The one person I know who’s had a real midair and everyone survived it, was talking and squawking.

    One aircraft landed immediately on hospitable terrain below, missing part of a wingtip, the other limped back home and was totaled also due to wing root damage.

    Lucky people, all four of them.

    They knew the other aircraft was in the area in both cases and were watching for each other. Training flights, both. Maneuvering at altitude.
     
    CharlieD3 likes this.
  25. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 En-Route

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2019
    Messages:
    2,594
    Location:
    Tennessee

    Display name:
    CharlieD3
    And, ADSB? And wonder if it would have made a difference? Probably not, unless both had "ADSB in" and then their eyes wouldn't have been where they should be... Outside the cockpit..
    .
    Glad all survived.

    Autonomous aircraft the answer? I don't think so... 737 max tragedies bear that out, to me. Poor training, lack of confidence/ability on the part of the crew, wouldn't/couldn't turn the AP off and fly the plane.

    I'm not an ace, or a professional, or even a wannabe... I'm responsible for myself, my plane... If something is wrong... I do all I can right to the scene of the incident/ tragedy... If it ends in tragedy... That's on me unless it is proven posthumously otherwise.
     
  26. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2009
    Messages:
    55,441
    Location:
    Denver, CO

    Display name:
    DenverPilot
    Pre-ADSB. But who knows if it would help.

    The real root cause reason for that one was a Bravo shelf and forced “practice areas” really.

    If you don’t plan to cram multiple trainers into a space, it’s harder to hit what’s not there! Ha.

    They certainly made mistakes too, no doubt.

    But I’ve been somewhere not in such an area, and had to immediately maneuver to avoid a collision before, also.

    “Big sky” works until it doesn’t but the tech can cause other unintended alternative problems, too.

    Nuisance alerts while in perfectly safe controlled things like parallel approaches are a bad distraction at a bad time, for example... and it’s a mental fight to not let them interrupt the more important approach and landing.

    I wouldn’t want the aircraft turning to avoid one of those until they get a lot better at filtering those out. But there isn’t any “the controller has us lined up for the parallel” button to tell the gadget that life is ohhhh-kay.

    Yet, I guess. Can always be added in software upgrades...

    The “head to head vectoring to parallels” has been a problem for these systems all the way back to the introduction of TCAS. No good solution yet. Just workarounds. :)
     
  27. Lawson Laslo

    Lawson Laslo Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2019
    Messages:
    380
    Location:
    Sundance airport Oklahoma

    Display name:
    N2005H
    happened to me also once, I was surprised that no one was flying on such a beautiful day;)
     
  28. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2011
    Messages:
    1,738

    Display name:
    Tom
    If anyone can say they have never done that with the radio,I would have to say BS. I know I have done it a time or two.
     
  29. NorthEast Ohio

    NorthEast Ohio Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2020
    Messages:
    67

    Display name:
    NorthEast Ohio
    Quiet? In my part of the country guard frequency is full of meowing cats.
     
  30. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Messages:
    6,917

    Display name:
    asicer
    I'd imagine 136.975Mhz might be relatively quiet. If not then perhaps 136.98333Mhz (at least in the USA).
     
  31. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    May 8, 2015
    Messages:
    11,020
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA

    Display name:
    Luvflyin
    That was not my fault. I just haven’t figured out why yet:blush:
     
    WannFly likes this.
  32. A Rusty Pilot

    A Rusty Pilot Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2020
    Messages:
    1

    Display name:
    A Rusty PIlot
    it definitely happens. I was on a straight in final last Sunday and there was one other aircraft in the pattern. They were using Rwy 18 which had a slight tailwind, which I thought was odd, but rather than conflict with them (they were doing pattern work) I figured I would just go with the flow and use the same runway. They were on downwind and hadn't turned base yet, and I'm on about a 4 mile final. I knew it wasn't going to be good, so I did a 360 to give them space and we both landed with no issues. They did ask if anyone could hear them and I said I could loud and clear. They smartly ended their flight and went back to the ramp to troubleshoot. As I was tying down, they came up to me and asked me if I could hear them and I said yes and I advised them to check the volume on their radio. I've done it myself for a brief moment and was a bit freaked out when it got quiet.