Making Mistakes on the Aircraft Radio

In this episode, we’ll talk about why you make mistakes on the radio and what it says about your performance as a pilot. I think my analysis will surprise you (in a good way).


Also, some pilots have asked interesting questions about the details of reporting your position in an uncontrolled airport pattern. Just when I think we’ve covered it all, someone brings up a question we haven’t covered before.

Show Notes:

Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) A text-message based system for communicating with enroute air traffic controller centers. During ocean crossings, CPDLC messages are handled by specialized communication agencies. These agencies coordinate communication between pilots and ATC.

High-Frequency Radio (HF) A long-range radio, generally used for communication during ocean crossings.

Selective Calling (SELCAL) A system that allows a ground-based operator to remotely ring a chime in a cockpit. The chime signals the operator’s need to communicate via radio with the pilot. The process is similar to dialing a phone number, causing the phone to ring. Each SELCAL unit has a unique four-letter code that the operator dials to ring that aircraft’s chime.

Standard Position Report Format (when out of radar contact):

1. Current reporting point. (Expressed as a named navaid, intersection, GPS waypoint, or latitude/longitude, as applicable.)

2. Time over reporting point.

3. Altitude over reporting point.

4. Next mandatory reporting point and ETA at that point.

5. Succeeding reporting point.

6. Remarks. These generally include current fuel state, outside air temperature, wind direction and speed, turbulence and/or icing, as applicable.

AIM 4−2−4. Aircraft Call Signs
a. Precautions in the Use of Call Signs.

1. Improper use of call signs can result in pilots executing a clearance intended for another aircraft. Call signs should never be abbreviated on an initial contact or at any time when other aircraft call signs have similar numbers/sounds or identical letters/ number; e.g., Cessna 6132F, Cessna 1622F, Baron 123F, Cherokee 7732F, etc.

Your Question of the Week:

You are receiving VFR traffic advisories from Oakland Center. You are proceeding towards your destination of Stockton Metro Airport in California’s Central Valley. Stockton Metro is a tower-controlled airport inside Class D airspace. Here’s your first question: When would you expect your controller in Oakland Center to direct you to contact Stockton Tower? Here’s your second question. What should you do if you are nearing the boundary of Class D, the controller hasn’t switched you to Stockton Tower, and a continuous stream of radio traffic prevents you from querying the controller?

When you think you know the answers to those questions, go to There you’ll find complete answers along with full explanations of how those answers were derived.

Note: Mahalo for your patience during the long break between Radar Contact Shows. I was in the middle of a move to the Big Island of Hawaii. I’m settled in now. That means I can resume bringing you a new show about once per month. Aloha, Jeff

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