You may notice that this is my second post in two days, which ties my personal record, after nearly two months of inactivity. This is because the weather has been garbage – IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS CRAPPY IN SPRING – and I have nothing to do but refresh Twitter and think about things to write that no one will read.
Well, that and study this horrible aviation book called “Private Oral Exam Guide,” which sounds like something the TSA should want to keep under wraps.
At least it’s not an anal exam. Ha. Ha.
One of the funnest parts of flying, as I mentioned yesterday, is talking on the radio. I am not sure why, but it is. Maybe it’s because you get to put on a cool-looking headset with sweet earmuffs and a microphone, and if your passenger is annoying you can actually turn them off. Maybe it’s because a radio has many buttons – and I like buttons.
Or maybe it’s because you, in your little aluminum plane that you can literally drag from its parking spot to the fuel pumps with your bare hands, share a conversation with the American Airlines pilots flying the 747 overhead.
Two other reasons I can think up:
1. Talking on the radio – or more realistically, understanding what the hell people are saying on the radio – makes you feel like part of The Club. I am not sure who is in The Club, but you have to be able to sound cool on the radio to be in The Club. It is worth mentioning that you can have a completely normal conversation on the radio without using the clipped speech everyone uses, but that ruins the fun. You can’t say, “Potomac Approach, this is Cessna 123AB, I am at about one thousand feet after taking off from Freeway Airport, and going to Deale.”
You sound like a noob when you say that. No. You have to say, in a quick monotone with a slight bounce, “Potomac, Cessna one two three ALPHA BRAVO just off Freeway one thousand en route to Deale.”
See how much COOLER that sounds? You even emphasize the “alpha bravo” part, because you need to highlight the awesomeness of being able to say, “alpha bravo.”
Then, the controller radioes back to you, sounding JUST AS COOL: “Three Alpha Bravo, transponder observed, remain clear Bravo, altimeter three zero point two five.”
Even though you don’t understand approximately two-thirds of what the controller just said, it sounded flippin’ sweet. And the best part is you get to REPEAT IT, ostensibly so that the controller knows you’ve received his instructions but really it’s so that you can sound like a badass one last time. “Wilco Potomac, remaining clear of Bravo, three zero point two five, Three Alpha Bravo.”
Bam. Like a BOSS. And a member of The Club, obviously.
2. Over the radio, you can sound just as awesome/important as Will Smith’s character in Independence Day (whose name no one remembers, but has one of the great improbable one-liners in blockbuster history when he punches out a telepathic, tentacled alien wearing a spacesuit that survived a high-speed spaceship crash with a single right hook, says, “Welcome to Earth,” then lights up a stogie).
Or anyone in Top Gun. Take your pick.
This is meaningful because the last time most guys my age – myself included – put on a headset, the person on the other side was a 9-year-old Xbox prodigy on Long Island yelling triumphant racial slurs as his virtual soldier performed The Hump over your dead virtual body in Halo.
(Don’t lie, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Okay, maybe not you, Grandma.)
Using the radio in the same tone of voice as Iceman, Will Smith, and yes, the irritating pilot on your cramped United flight informing you that you’ve reached your cruising altitude of 35,000 feet and it’s cold outside makes you feel IMPORTANT, dammit. And a little bit better about The Hump.