ATC Terrain Announcement

I was flying into Palm Springs RWY13R one time. Palm Springs is surrounded by high mountain chains that go up from about 9,000 to even 10,000 feet while Palm Springs airport sits less than 1,000 feet above sea level. So the controller wanted me to desend to 6,000 and maintain a heading that would have flown me right into the side of the mountain if I didn’t intervene. When I did intervene I just used the “Correction, stand by” announcement. Then the controller quickly responded with “Please follow instructions” and then after a few more “stand by”'s, he told me to resume my own navigation which I thought was kind of sad considering I wasn’t even in the range of Palm Springs Tower yet. I wonder if there might be a better way of letting the ATC know that you can’t do something because of the terrain rather than just saying “Unable” or “Stand by” so that the ATC doesn’t think you’re just trying to be a rebel. 😂


ATC should have been aware that there was terrain. It’s KPSP for god’s sake. Was this on Playground or Advanced server?

playground or advanced? If the answer is playground then just deal with it and correct it yourself

It was playground.

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well no shock there that ATC had no idea what they were doing. I strongly recommend flying on the advanced server. The ATC are professional there and aren’t rookies like those on PG. Welcome to the forum btw :)


Thank you very much, sir 😁

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You should have said “unable”.

I said “unable” once but he still thought I was a rebel. Lol

lol it was playground wouldn’t worry too much

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In this case unable is your best move. Playground ATC’s(Most of them) don’t know what they’re doing.

Get more XP and fly advanced

I’m Grade 4 I just don’t fly Advanced because there aren’t as many people. However, that gives me an idea to start flying Advanced when I fly to San Clemente brcause San Clemente is always super duper crowded in Playground. Haha! San Clemente is a mess most of the time.


If you flying on Playground and are on Approach Frequency, click the Airport and check the names of the controllers…if you see an IFATC in front of their names, this are advanced controller training for approach atc and you can follow their commands, cause nobody will vector you in a mountain ( CAVE: KASE😂)…if not you will just have a rookie…just look it make sense what he/she is doing…when not change frequency…

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The phrase your looking for is: “Unable”

The problem is the that ATC has gotten to used to that phrase and seen it as “I dont want to follow your instructions”. Though this happens, if you can’t descend to that altitude or slow to that speed/increase at that time you must say unable.

A respectful ATC should than give you new instructions that could be safer! :)

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[quote=“anon43874684, post:12, topic:37074, full:true”]if you see an IFATC in front of their names, this are advanced controller training for approach atc and you can follow their commands, cause nobody will vector you in a mountain
I had what could be considered a “rookie” nearly descend me into a mountain east of KSAN, the other day.
I was making for an assigned altitude of 2000ft, as was asked of me, and a hillside was coming up to greet me. Everything tightly clinched, I decided to accept my rate-of-descent as evidence to pending disaster…

I’m sure ground-crews don’t appreciate having to dislodge whole tree-limbs from an aircraft’s undercarriage. :\

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Sounds like it…KSAN is 14ft, so he shouldn’t give you 2000 feet, clearance at the ILS cone should be 3000-2500ft…if he give you 2000 and there were still mountains…man, thats easily 30mn away from the airport… If it dont make sense, give an unable command…

He was descending me from 3500ft (my previous assigned altitude) along the western side of those mountains.

I issued an “unable” after receiving the command but didn’t receive any further commands until just after clipping trees that I’m sure were there.

While it was a rather rouge hill that appeared before me, I think the controller realised his mistake shortly after.

But you’re right, no explaining away why I was being guided into the side of a hill so far away…other than incompetence.

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I doubt that many of the folks who read these threads will find these to be new information, but I tend to pull up the plates on my PC when I control…just to help refresh my memory and (try to) get a rhythm going. I see controlling as similar to brewing (other hobby)- it’s a mix of art and science. The plates and STARs give you the science, now you apply art to make it work.

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