Monday, February 19, 2007

The Mean Ol’ Skies over Akron-Canton

Tonight was supposed to be a real quick flight down to KCAK for some landings so I could sign my student off to fly at night solo.  After arguing for 15 minutes over whether or not dispatch would close before I got back, We finally got in the air.  Jake, another flight instructor, was already in the air on the same lesson.  Winds were very strong tonight, from the southwest at 60 knots at 3000 feet!

So we take off relatively normal and climb to 3000 feet while listening to the automated weather, no big deal.  We make our initial call,
“Akron Approach, Cessna 9783P with information Echo”
“Cessna 9783P, Akron Approach”
“N9783P 1 mile north of Kent State, inbound for 2 touch and go landings, then depart to the north”
“9783P squawk 5304, blah blah fly towards airport blah”  <-not important

So as we’re flying to Akron, we’re hearing poor Jake and his student trying to head east after finishing their landings and they’re giving them a hard time, trying to fly them different headings and utterly confused at the notion that they would like to go somewhere other than kent state.  Finally 117KS cancels radar services and just leaves and they start giving us headings (vectors) to space us behind some learjet where the real fun begins

The learjet is about 250 feet above the ground when we hear:
“Akron Tower Learjet whatever number, are we clear to land?”
“Learjet #, Akron Tower, You are still cleared to land”
“Roger, Learjet #”
Not a big deal, they land but then this learjet starts going off on the tower dude (who I know from the voice is not a very forgiving guy, and probably less so late at night)
“Akron Tower, Learjet #, Blah blah I don’t mean to be smug or whatever, but you probably saw we did not have our landing lights on and I was about to go around and you need to give me clearance blah blah” <- Being obviously smug…
Tower: “I cleared you to land 6 miles out and you read it back and we’re trained not to talk over the radios during a very critical phase of flight and you need to pay attention and so forth”

So I’m thinking great, they’re probably going to take this out on us…..

So we’re finished with our last landing, expecting to get a vector northbound, and nothing, so I have my student ask for one and the controller gets all pissy and makes us fly further south!
“9783P, fly runway heading (190 or almost directly south) and you need to tell us on downwind before your last landing when you expect to depart the pattern”

And my student wants to go off on this controller, and I’m telling him not to because it won’t help and would just make us look bad.  We told them 2 landings then depart northbound on our first call but they said we did it wrong, despite 4 years always doing it the same way!  But oh well!  So we finally get a vector northwest (310) and we fly for a while and we don’t hear anybody which isn’t so unusual this late at night but we’re out of Akron airspace and almost getting into Cleveland so we’re trying to call Akron to get free of their control just like Jake but nothing is happening.  Finally I switch to radio #2 and we call and they’re all like “we’ve been trying to call you for 10 minutes where were you?” so we explain we just switched the radios and the first one wasn’t working, and sorry can we just go back to KSU.  And then I hear “Is there an Instructor on board?” And my heart sinks down about 2 feet… “Yes..”  Have him call this number…blah blah blah” so I copy it and I’m freaking out cause this only happens in bad situations and I was worried about us having a stuck microphone and they were hearing all the things we were saying.  We called Kent Operations on the “bad” radio and it worked so I don’t know what was happening..  Solar Flares or something.

So we landed and I’m all pissed cause I don’t know what’s going to happen with ATC.  But I called and they only wanted to know what happened (which I sorta knew I didn’t do anything wrong but you never know).  They said we drifted too close to the arrival end of the runway and interfered with a jet.  They blamed it on the airplane’s gyro drift (where the heading instrument gets off over time), but I bet the wind was just stronger than they thought which blew us closer and they were unable to tell us about it for unknown reason.  They probably had to give me a phone number just to look like they were punishing me for not knowing how to fly even though it was some mechanical quirk.

Posted by eclipse on 02/19/2007 at 08:57 PM
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