Using descriptors instead of N number

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Unit74, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. apr911

    apr911 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Most planes have a base color of white with some secondary color. The secondary color on most is as hard if not harder to see on most planes than the N number so its not very helpful from a perspective of maitaining visual contact with a particular plane. Building a mental picture may well be possible from unique colors but seems more prone to error in my opinion due to tricks in the way our brains process information and store it in short term memory.

    I'd also note that colors are prone to confirmation bias. A white cessna with blue stripes (call sign blue and white cessna) looks an awful lot like a white cessna with red stripes (call sign red and white cessna) from a distance. While that is also true for N numbers (Cessa N1234 looks an awful lot like Cessna N5678 of the same type and base color), an N number is more likely to give you more pause when confirming you have N5678 in sight than distinguishing whether the cessna you have in sight is the "red and white cessna" or the "blue and white cessna."

    From a situational awareness perspective, as others have pointed out, the N number is a fully unique identifier. There is no question of how many planes are in the pattern.

    I like this. Its what I generally use personally though you can run into some issues. Not everyone is familiar with all the makes and models of airplanes but its simple enough to clarify if someone wants to know. The biggest issue really comes with the Piper lines since they are so prone to using the same name to define aircraft of widely different performance envelopes. A cherokee could be a PA28 Cherokee or the PA28-235 Cherokee-Dakota or a PA32 Cherokee 6 (with a 250 and a 300). My favorite for this is the Commanche with 4 widely different performance envelopes for the single engine PA24 lines (160, 250/260, 300, 380/400) and the PA30 Twin and its variants.

    Just playing devils advocate a bit with your call sign... Are you "Cherokee6 0U" or "Cherokee 60U." For this reason, I generally refer to all PA28-140 through -161 as Warriors, -180/181 as Archers, -235/236 as Dakotas and 28R's as Arrows but I realize that's just my own grouping and when I fly my friends Cherokee6 around I have to remind myself to tell people I'm a 6.

    This.
     
  2. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Plus if you only fly into towers airports, you’ll never have to hear ‘Any Traffic in the Pattern Please Advise’!
     
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  3. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Cleared for Takeoff

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    I thought the ATC guys usually signed on with that phrase after a shift change... ;)
     
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  4. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think they say something similar when the tower closes, too!
     
  5. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    One very busy Saturday night in 1979, there were six airplanes training in the pattern at RHV. 31L had no runway lights back then, so it was pilot's option to use the left runway for night landings without lights. There were simultaneous patterns going on both runways when midnight rolled around and it was time for the tower to close...

    Tower announces, "OK, we got three in left traffic, three in right traffic, one inbound from UTC and one departing to the North... Why couldn't you guys take up bowling or something? Reid Hillview tower is now closed."

    Somehow we were able to continue training for another 30 minutes with no confusion by self-announcing our positions with [Make] [(Tail number) XXX]. There was a mix of Cessna, Cherokee and Sundowner traffic, if I remember correctly and the inbound was a twin. We all cooperated and it went very smoothly...
     
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  6. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    I'm more worried about how they will judge my runway inspection.......
     
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  7. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    Cripes I don't remember that much detail about anything that happened to me in 1979. Did you keep notes or something? :)
     
  8. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    You guys are screwing up my stats......




    4 pages and no lock yet. Whatta trying to do?,,,,,,,, Make a real thread or sumthin'?
     
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  9. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    Nah, it was just a very memorable event. I use it as a joke sometimes when people complain about airport congestion. I knew all the controllers and all the DPEs in my area, so it was fun to goof with them sometimes. I spent so much time (20+ hours) in the pattern every week that they knew me by my voice and they would occasionally judge my landings. We had fun back in those days when gas was $1.35
     
  10. Gmonnig

    Gmonnig Pre-takeoff checklist

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    As a controller I find the color/type combo annoying. Do people really think the N-number is meant to be read air to air? That can't be, people really aren't that dumb are they?
     
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  11. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Cleared for Takeoff

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    Perhaps a bit more elucidation of your opinion is in order?
     
  12. Gmonnig

    Gmonnig Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Im just with the group that think N-numbers are more useful information. In particular I use type and abbreviated N-number, Comanche 8-9er PAPA. Using a specific identity gives you a better idea of sequencing, but the comment that I responded to seems to think N-numbers are meant for reading air-to-air.
     
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  13. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    Over all the color/type is also just an identifier. Maybe some people do think we can actually see that they are a red and white Cessna when all they actually are is a black dot moving across the sky but it usually works out fine in the end. We get the intent.
     
  14. N1120A

    N1120A Cleared for Takeoff

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    My CFI/I got his ticket this century, so I was taught to follow the regulation and use my call sign, as well as type. Only use colors if I'm in with others of the same type, though I'm usually the only Grumman in the pattern.

    Anyway, I usually only use "Tiger" with ATC, but say "Grumman Tiger" and my N number in the pattern. I've been in the LAX SFRA where someone kept snidly saying "YELLOW CHEROKEE" ahead of me, as I kept doing my normal call. I didn't feel like saying "uh, regulations."
     
  15. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    My N number is N5660U

    A shortened call sign would be the type aircraft and the last three of your N number. How long should I pause before the "Cherokee" and the "six" for optimum recognition? I don't have time to memorize all the N numbers or colors, I listen to the voice, connect it with an aircraft and plan accordingly.

    Lastly, my Cherokee isn't a Warrior, its a "Cruiser" and I'll be damned if I ever fly around using that as my call sign.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  16. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    T-28 pilots don't use their plane's name too often, either.....

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  17. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Now that I think about it, I don’t typically hear any NAA pilots use the aircraft name with callsign. It’s always North American whether they are flying a T6/T28/P51or B-25

    I don’t call myself a Texan....
     
  18. wanttaja

    wanttaja En-Route

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    Yeah, but it'd beat calling yourself a "Trojan Man" on CTAF..... :)

    Ron Wanttaja
     
  19. JPA

    JPA Filing Flight Plan

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    Type and N-number.
    "[airport] traffic, Grumman 2894-Lima turning downwind for [runway], [airport]". Not terribly worried about the color unless there are two or more Grummans in the pattern.
     
  20. Deano

    Deano Filing Flight Plan

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    Should and Shall are very different. Recommend and Required are as well.
    I use my type so everyone knows I'm coming in at twice their speed. Common sense goes very far on the CTAF.
     
  21. SoCal RV Flyer

    SoCal RV Flyer En-Route

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    Its wings are ribbed for pleasure (flights!). :D:eek:
     
  22. AGLyme

    AGLyme Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not to beat a dead horse, but I flew to an airport today with a 182 performing a planned missed approach ahead of me, a "Skyhawk" a mile and a half behind me and a Cherokee a few miles behind the Skyhawk.

    Everyone was announcing frequently, which I appreciate. The "Skyhawk" (that is all the announced info there was) was flown by a woman pilot, then, there was another "Skyhawk" flown by a male pilot. They both sounded professional, meaning, not "Student-ish". So, I have 2 Skyhawks right behind me in the pattern, or is it one Skyhawk?

    So, in today's example, it would have been appreciated if the single Skyhawk with 2 pilots announcing, or, each individual Skyhawk would add their N# to differentiate.
     
  23. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I just say Bonanza.
     
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  24. Tusayan

    Tusayan Pre-Flight

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    This is an Emigh Trojan wing... maybe you’re familiar with the type? :)

    [​IMG]