14/11/2016 – Had a flying lesson booked but it was cancelled due to the low overcast cloud cover.
15/11/2016 – Back at True Airspeed Training for another day of tuition and an exam. This time it was Communications.When you’re a pilot and talking on the radio you will be expected to use a certain kind of language. This is designed to be concise, easy to say and understand, and to give all relevant information without waffling. It’s also one of the hardest things you’ll have to learn when becoming a pilot. You will need to practice these calls again and again before you are comfortable with them.
So let’s say you’re coming up to RAF Wittering on the way from Gamston to Duxford and want to pass through their MATZ. About 5-10 minutes before you would call them up and say:
YOU: Wittering Radar, Golf Golf Alpha Lima Bravo, Request MATZ Penetration
THEM: Golf Golf Alpha Lima Bravo, Wittering Radar, Pass your message
YOU: Golf Golf Alpha Lima Bravo, PA-28, from Gamston to Duxford, 10 miles north of Wittering, altitude 2000 feet QNH 1005, requesting MATZ penetration
THEM: Golf Lima Bravo, MATZ approved not above 2000 feet
YOU: MATZ penetration approved not above 2000 feet, Golf Lima Bravo
So in this short example, you’ve called them, told them who you are and what you want. They’ve asked for more info. Then you’ve replied with your Call sign, Aircraft type, Route, Position, Altitude and Request. A way to try and remember this is CARPAR. It’s done in this specific order for consistency and ease of understanding for both you and them. You don’t need to use any extra words, and you don’t need to waffle. Remember other people might be trying to get a call in as well.
There are other specific calls such as using for joining information, a basic or traffic service, a bearing to a specific point, and, of course Mayday calls. Let’s hope you never have to do the last one for real!
Remember the important things is to be Precise, and Concise. If you aren’t sure what you’re supposed to say then don’t be afraid to ask. The people on the other end of the radio are happy to help and understand if you are confused about the correct terminology. But whatever you do don’t sit there with your finger on the button not saying anything. That is one of the worst things you can do. It’s better to practice in the aircraft first, then press the button and make the call.
There are many rules to remember for Communication, they aren’t easy but you will become much more comfortable with them after you’ve done it a few times. Just don’t get too stressed out, they will always ask you for more information if you’ve forgotten to pass it to them.
Some other things you’ll need to know include; the meaning of Roger (I have received your message), Wilco (Will comply with your instruction – only used for non-mandatory read backs), Negative instead of No, Affirm instead of Yes, etc.
I was a bit worried about the exam as the terminology is so precise. I took it, checked it, checked it again, then checked it one more time. At the third check I actually realised I’d got a question wrong, corrected it before handing in, and was very pleased to get 100%. It just shows you can’t be too careful reading, and answering the questions.
I completed this one pretty quickly so we made a quick start on Meteorology, another exam I wasn’t looking forward to (not that I was looking forward to any of them!)
16/11/2016 – Next day I had yet another lesson cancelled, this time due to high winds. But at least I’d got another exam out of the way!
If you want to know more, the podcast, as always, contains an expanded version of the above.