I’m sure everyone’s flown into places with controllers active and all that sort of cool stuff. But did you know there is an art in flying? Did you know that communication can be the equalivalent of a Picasso masterpice or a slice of cheesy stuffed crust pizza at Pizza Hut?
Intriguied? Good for you. Give yourself a cookie and a pat on the back. To elaborate further, communicating with a controller is a handy set of skills all can master. It’s taking in observations and intepreting it that matters, especially when it comes to reading what a controller is doing.
How can you read your controller? Good question.
In order to do that, you need one thing- common sense. Those two simple words mean the difference between orderly traffic and chaos. You’d be surprised at how many people fail to take this into consideration.
I want you to try something. Draw conclusions as best as you can with the commands you are given and relative position to other traffic. Push your mind and start to question why certain commands are given.
Here are a few examples of how you can try this level of thinking:
- Approach controller gives you a descent to 2,000.
- Most likely you will be getting a short approach. Reduce speed and prepare for a 4-5 mile final!
- You are told to reduce speed to 170 knots.
- You could be going too fast and catching up with a plane in front.
- Gap between you and another plane is closing quickly on who intercepts first.
- Going too quickly to hit the ILS.
- Told to hold over Red Table VOR @ 13,000 feet.
- Airport may be busy, so expect delays.
- Traffic could be under you below the stack.
- You’re too high.
What do all of those have in common? Deductive reasoning. Take the commands given to you and observe. There’s a reason in what we do. Those examples given may not be related to the actual situation, but they’re examples of what you can interpret.
At the end of the day, our job is to accomodate, separate, and move traffic in an orderly manner. I don’t want pilots to have to be frightened to ask those questions.
We are here to serve you, not the other way around. If there weren’t any planes, ATC wouldn’t even exist. Remember that.
Enjoy your evening and eat some hot nachos on the house. :)