Rapid-Fire ATC Instructions On The Radio
Even the day before the show opens, the airfield gets busy. How
busy? So busy that listening to the drumfire of ATC instructions is
almost alarming, even when you are sitting safely on the ground,
gripping a handheld radio. Here are some impressions from five
minutes of monitoring.
The problem with monitoring ATC at Oshkosh is that it's as
addictive as watching a campfire: bet you can't do it for just five
Given the aircraft volume, the controllers don't call individual
callsigns, but they call airplanes by description. The duty
controller is pretty much the only one speaking on the frequency,
transmitting in the blind. Pilots are expected to comply, not reply
(on the frequency, anyway; you acknowledge instructions by rocking
your wings). But those pilots that don't quite follow instructions
are chided gently, not rudely. And with a little, or sometimes
"Canard, bring it down. Bring it down. Canard, descend, descend
-- you gotta bring it down if you're gonna land."
"Spitfire, bring it in, Runway 27, cleared to land on the
"Taildragger, a Spitfire's going to pass you, bring it around
tight. OK taildragger, clear to land."
"Comanche, hold your altitude, don't put it down, continue all
the way to green dot, put it on the green dot for me."
"Spitfire, right turn onto the grass when able, follow the
"Cessna, red and white Cessna, you're way too high. Oh, slip,
that's beautiful. Put it on the orange dot."
"Taildragger, that was nice, good job. Right turn, follow the
"Canard, you got it down. Right turn onto the grass, follow
"Experimental, turn your base, keep it in tight, there's a plane
in front of you, snuggle up nice and tight, he's gonna land, and
you're going to the green dot."
Chaos? Without the controllers, it might be. With them, it's
And all with the pacing and professionalism of a livestock
So bring a handheld to Oshkosh (or buy one from one of the
vendors here -- you'll probably never get a better deal). But watch
out for the addictive nature of monitoring 126.6 during AirVenture:
the show does end next week, and withdrawal pains can be