Monitor the Tower

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* 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:

  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.

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.


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4 thoughts on “Monitor the Tower”

  1. I always add the comment left, or right to the position reports: “Hermiston traffic, Cardinal 92V entering midfield, left downwind runway 04, full stop Hermiston”. I realize that unless otherwise specified, all turns should be to the left. However, at our local airport (KHRI), we host a number of agricultural spray plans and they often are coming in to the field in the most direct manner, often unannounced. I’m sure thaqt this is the case at many rural airfields. Other than that, good show.


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