Radar Contact is back! In the first show after a months-long break, we’ll talk about when to make position reports in an uncontrolled pattern. You may think you already know the answer, but if you look at the confusing mess in the Aeronautical Information Manual, your confidence may be shaken. No matter. I’ll give you the definitive when, how, and why of position reports.

Now that's a wing flash.

Now that’s a wing flash.

Are you in the market for an aviation headset? Do you have a headset you love, or one you hate with a passion? In this show, we are going to talk about headsets, and specifically headsets that cost less than $300. Is it possible to find a quality headset at this price? We’ll find out.

My latest book, Radio Mastery for IFR Pilots is now available at Amazon.com. I’ll tell you what you can expect to find in the book and help you decide if it’s right for you.

All this plus your Question of the Week.

As Bluto said in ‘Animal House’, “Hey! What’s all this laying around stuff?” It’s time for a brand new edition of Radar Contact! “Let’s do it!”

Show Notes:

  1. If you look in Table 4-1-1 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) it says to “report entering downwind, base, and final approach” in an uncontrolled airport traffic pattern.
  2. The text in AIM 4-1-9 h. Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports Without Operating Control Towers says “Report on downwind, base, and final approach.”
  3. Even though the table says to “report entering” and the text says to report “on”, I strongly recommend following the guidance in the table, not the text.
  4. When you roll into a turn as you enter a leg of the traffic pattern to the next leg, the roll into a bank creates “wing flash”.
  5. Wing flash happens when the tops of your wings reflect sunlight towards an observer. Wing flash draws attention to your aircraft.
  6. By transmitting your position report as you flash your wings in a turn, you give other pilots in the traffic pattern the best chance of spotting your aircraft and identifying your position.
  7. Example position reports:

    “Frederick Traffic, Cessna 801TF, entering downwind for Runway One Niner, touch-and-go, Frederick.”

    “Frederick Traffic, Cessna 801TF, entering base for Runway One Niner, touch-and-go, Frederick.”

    “Frederick Traffic, Cessna 801TF, entering final for Runway One Niner, touch-and-go, Frederick.”


  9. If you are entering the traffic pattern at the midfield downwind entry point I recommend, as a technique, saying,

    “Frederick Traffic, Cessna 801TF, entering a midfield downwind for Runway One Niner, touch-and-go, Frederick.”


What You’re Missing with an ADS-B In-Only Display


  1. If you are using ADS-B In but do not have ADS-B Out installed in your aircraft, you are not getting the full display of all traffic in your area.
  2. ADS-B Out transmits a separate data package that grants access to traffic data rebroadcast by ground-based ADS-B relay stations. Systems lacking ADS-B Out will not have access to traffic relayed from these stations.
  3. An ADS-B In-only unit is limited to displaying traffic flying within 15 nautical miles and plus or minus 3,500 vertical feet of your aircraft. This envelope of range is called the “puck”.
  4. You may be able to “borrow” traffic information from another aircraft flying within your puck if that aircraft has the full ADS-B In and Out suite.
  5. Of course, your ADS-B unit will not display traffic that is not equipped with ADS-B Out.
  6. All this means you cannot rely on your ADS-B In-only unit to display all of the traffic in your area. Keep your eyes outside and clear for traffic.


All About Aviation Headsets


  1. Is it possible to find a quality headset for less than $300 that provides comfort, good audio quality, and durability? I’ll need your help to answer that question.
  2. If you use a headset that cost you less than $300, please tell me about it.
  3. Use the list of questions below to guide you as you tell me about your headset. Use the comment section below these show notes to respond.


Get My Latest Book


  1. My latest book, Radio Mastery for IFR Pilots is now available at Amazon.com. *
  2. The book’s content was vetted by pilots, certified flight instructors, and air traffic controllers.
  3. To make it compelling and easy to understand, the content is presented in real-world scenarios. It’s a you-are-there approach to learning.

* I receive a small commission when you use this link to order from Amazon.com.

Your Question of the Week:

You are number 1, holding short of Runway 6, the active runway, at Petersburg Airport. Petersburg is an uncontrolled airport. You plan to depart VFR and your initial heading will be approximately 330 degrees. Here is your question: What would your next self-announce radio transmission be on UNICOM? Note: I’m looking for the specific words you would say, and when would you make that transmission.

When you think you know the answer to that question, go to ATCcommunication/answers. There you will find a complete answer as well as a full explanation of how that answer was derived.

Tell Me About Your Less-Than-$300 Headset

Use the comment section below to answer these questions. (Click the title of this article–top of page–to reveal the comment section.):

–What is the brand and model of your headset?

–What did your headset cost you?

–Is your headset comfortable?
(If your headset is not comfortable, where does it hurt and how long after you put it on does it start hurting?)

–Rate the audio quality of your headset?

–Has your headset held up well, or did it seem to deteriorate/break sooner than you expected?

–Does your headset have any special features–music hookup, separate audio control, etc.–that you like?

Thank you for answering these questions in the comment section below. If I get enough data from this survey, I’ll make it a permanent feature of the website.


Recently, someone asked me, “What should I do when the ground controller says, ‘Monitor the Tower?'” This individual thought it meant, continue to communicate with Ground on one radio and listen to Tower’s frequency on a second radio. This makes sense when you think about how the Aeronautical Information Manual recommends monitoring the guard frequency of 121.5 on a secondary radio.

Monitor the frequency, and while you're at it, tuck in your shirt label.

Monitor the frequency, and while you’re at it, tuck in your shirt label.

The Correct Answer

When Ground says, for example, “Monitor Tower 118.1,” switch your primary communication radio from Ground’s frequency to Tower’s frequency. Then listen. Don’t transmit. Tower will eventually contact you.

In simplest terms, “monitor” means listen. Some busy air traffic control towers use the monitor strategy to reduce the volume of radio traffic. By directing you to wait for Tower to contact you, ATC sidesteps having you check in on the new frequency.

No Need to Work 2 Radios Simultaneously

There is no situation–that I can think of–in which the FAA will require a solo pilot to transmit and receive on 2 radios simultaneously. You may choose to work with 2 radios simultaneously in some circumstances, but that is entirely your choice, not an FAA requirement.

For example, a controller may tell you there has been an update to an airport’s ATIS. You may choose to listen to the update on a secondary radio while continuing to communicate with ATC on your primary radio. Or, you may request to leave the current ATC frequency to listen to the updated ATIS. How you handle the situation is entirely up to you.

Side Notes

  1. I’m writing this post on a layover in Osaka, Japan. We’re really overdue for a new edition of Radar Contact, but it’s a logistics nightmare to produce a podcast while on an airline trip. I promise, now that my latest book is complete and on sale, I will get back to producing audio shows.

  3. My newest book, Radio Mastery for IFR Pilots * went on sale at Amazon.com* a few days ago. I’ll have more information about the book in the next edition of Radar Contact.
    When a new book gets listed at Amazon, the company takes about a week to add the “Look Inside” feature for the book. As of this posting, the “Look Inside” feature is not available for my book. You may research the book at one of my other websites: IFRflightRadio.com.

  5. My first book, Radio Mastery for VFR Pilots and the companion workbook by the same name, hit new sales records this month. If this is due to your help promoting either book let me know. I’d like to thank you personally. Jeff@ATCcommunication.com.

Domo arigato and sayonara. We’ll talk soon in a new edition of Radar Contact.

*Fine Print: I receive a commission from Amazon when you use this link to make a purchase.


Speed Kills–On the Radio

October 21, 2015

It’s not so much speed that kills a good radio transmission. It’s the side effects of speed-talking that destroy a perfectly good radio transmission. I have a case in point. Two nights ago, I was flying into JFK. This was at an extremely busy time at an airport that is already one of the busiest […]

Read the full article →

Look Out for VFR Pop-Up Traffic

October 18, 2015

Explain this to me. I was on the cockpit jumpseat as we were descending into San Francisco International yesterday. Inflight visibility was good, though the sun was blinding as it sank towards the western horizon. Suddenly, Norcal Approach said, “Airliner 521 Heavy*, expedite a right turn, heading 280.” The Pilot Flying complied. A second and […]

Read the full article →

St. Maarten Tower, You’re Driving Me Crazy!

October 12, 2015

It happened again this week. I bring it up so you’ll know you are not alone with this problem. This was at St. Maarten International–yes, that St. Maarten. The place where everyone hangs onto the fence, and their swim shorts, as the KLM 747 comes screaming overhead at 50 feet. “Didja get it? Didja get the […]

Read the full article →

New IFR Radio Book Out Soon

September 13, 2015
Thumbnail image for New IFR Radio Book Out Soon

The final draft of Radio Mastery for IFR Pilots is at the publisher now. I’m awaiting the completion of a proof copy of the book. After I sign off on the proof copy, hopefully within a week, the new book will go sale at Amazon.com. The first version of the book will be a paperback. A Kindle […]

Read the full article →

Here’s What’s Coming Up Next at ATCcommunication.com

July 10, 2015
Here’s What’s Coming Up Next at ATCcommunication.com

Are you looking for an excellent headset but don’t want to spend too much? Have you been using a headset that you absolutely hate or that you highly recommend? We are about to add a section to ATCcommunication.com for pilots to review and rate their own headsets. Ratings will cover fit and comfort, audio clarity, […]

Read the full article →

NextGen Air Traffic Control and You

June 23, 2015

In this month’s edition of the Radar Contact Show we are going to look at how the FAA’s NextGen version of air traffic control will affect you. We’ll also look at what it means to be off your assigned altitude and what to do if ATC calls you out for being off altitude. I’ll tell you the real […]

Read the full article →

You Are Off Your Assigned Altitude

June 17, 2015
Thumbnail image for You Are Off Your Assigned Altitude

Quick question. ATC has told you to maintain 3,000 feet. If you allowed your aircraft to drift above 3,000, at what indication on your altimeter would ATC consider you to be off your assigned altitude? I’ll have the answer to that question in the next Radar Contact Show. We’ll also discuss how the FAA’s NextGen version of ATC will affect […]

Read the full article →

Radio Communication Integrity

June 6, 2015

Thought I’d check in with you and catch up. I’ve been out of contact for a while. A long run of flying and then a short run of the flu has put me on the sidelines. This timeout has given me time to think . . . maybe more than I should. How Do You […]

Read the full article →