Thursday, March 29, 2007

Strange Night, Strange Day

Nearly two weeks ago, I was asked to do a passenger flight in a Grand Caravan, flying from California to Oregon and back. Since I had plenty of advance notice, I agreed to do the flight and that flight was today. The odd thing is that for some reason, I couldn't really get to sleep last night. I tossed and turned in a way reminiscent of my freight dog days.

When 5am arrived, I got a weather briefing before heading out the door and saw this interesting TFR (emphasis mine):
FDC 5/9066 ZSE WA.. FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS MT. ST. HELENS VOLCANO. EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 91.137(A)(2) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT WITHIN A 1.5 NAUTICAL MILE RADIUS OF 461151N/1221118W OR THE BATTLE GROUND /BTG/ VORTAC 11 DEGREE RADIAL AT 31.8 NAUTICAL MILES AT AND BELOW 9000 FEET MSL TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR VOLCANIC ACTIVITY. U.S.F.S., TELEPHONE 360-891-5140 OR FREQ 132.125, IS IN CHARGE OF THE OPERATION. SEATTLE /SEA/ THE SYSTEM OPERATIONS SUPPORT CENTER/SOSC, PHONE 202-267-3333, IS THE FAA COORDINATION FACILITY.

For some reason this makes me think of Mt. Saint Helens as being like a four-year old child whose hand needs be held while crossing the street.

It was a glorious, brilliant, and smooth VFR day. Cruising over Clear Lake on the way up to Oregon, I overheard this early morning exchange between a female pilot and ATC:
Oakland Center, Boxhauler 123, 6,500, VFR

Boxhauler 123, Oakland Center, ah ... Say your position?

Boxhauler 123 is a few miles north of Butt Mountain.

(Complete silence on frequency for at least 20 seconds, probably for untransmitted laughter - I know I was laughing. Then thinking better of her position report ...)

(Boxhauler 123) I guess that's pronounced Butte ...

Boxhauler 123, you're radar contact, just north of the Sutter Buttes ...


On the way back across the Oregon/Califronia, I overheard this exchange:
Horizon Center, Horizon 123 ... I mean Oakland Center, Horizon 123, 10,000 feet, sorry about that ...

Horizon 123, Oakland Center, I've been called worse, climb and maintain flight level 230 ...


Flying a Caravan such a long distance makes one yearn to fly something faster, but the ATC chatter today was the best entertainment going. I was in the home stretch on the way back when I heard:
Cessna 456, I'll be losing radar contact with you in a few miles, before I terminate flight following you have traffic at your 12 to 1 o'clock, 3 miles, opposite direction, same altitude.

Ah ... we don't see him, but we have 'em on the fish finder ...

(unidentified voice) Arrrrgh, fish finder!

All in all, a great day to be a pilot. One thing I know for sure is that an empty Caravan climbs much better than one filled with passengers and baggage.

2 comments:

Eric said...

Sounds like a fun flight... I always love ATC chatter. My favorite was Grand Forks Arrival's response to a UND student who they just switched to Red River Tower:

ATC: Sioux 65, contact tower on 124.9, report back after the missed approach.
65: Roger, contact tower on... what's tower?
ATC: It's a big tall building with lots of windows, but that's not important right now!

Ryan said...

Yep, Oakland Center always comes back with that one. This is usually the time when I call in and say, "Cleveland Center, King Air XYZ at FL270." They hate that.