Radar Contact


Whether you are an experienced pilot, a new pilot, or a student pilot, Radar Contact is your source for pilot-to-air traffic control communication. Real-life stories, how-to, tips, tricks, and quizzes. What to say, and how to say it when working the ATC system in VFR or IFR flight.

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How to communicate effectively and confidently with air traffic control. For pilots of all experiences levels, flying VFR or IFR.
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-11-07 16:54
last episode published
2017-01-04 21:41
publication frequency
44.55 days
Jeff Kanarish author  
jeff@atccommunication.com (Jeff Kanarish) managing editor  
Jeff Kanarish owner  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
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Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Using ATC to Check the Status of a MOA

Is it safe to fly through a Military Operations Area (MOA)? It depends. A pilot named Drew recently asked me if I had any advice about how to contact ATC to check the status of a MOA. Here’s what I told him. Show Resources Aeronautical Information Manu...
Jeff Kanarish author

Taxi Clearance Anxiety

If you have ever felt butterflies in your stomach when faced with contacting Ground Control for taxi clearance, you have experienced something I call Taxi Clearance Anxiety. It’s a made-up term but the phenomenon has real consequences. Some pilots go o...
Jeff Kanarish author

Contacting Flight Service; Searching for IFR Traffic in an Uncontrolled Pattern

If you can get all the aviation weather data you need online, do you really need to know how to contact Flight Service on the radio? It depends on who you ask. I say yes. A Flight Service agent can save time and point you in the right direction. An age...
Jeff Kanarish author

Making Mistakes on the Aircraft Radio

In this episode, we’ll talk about why you make mistakes on the radio and what it says about your performance as a pilot. I think my analysis will surprise you (in a good way). Also, some pilots have asked interesting questions about the details of repo...
Jeff Kanarish author

Aircraft Color in Place of Call Sign is a Bad Idea

“Town and Country Traffic, red and white Skyhawk, 4-mile final, Runway One Seven, Town and Country.” “Town and Country Traffic, blue and white Warrior, turning base, Runway One Seven, Town and Country.” “Town and Country Traffic, red and white Skyhawk,...
Jeff Kanarish author

Common Traffic Advisory Frequencies and ATC as Customer Service

This edition of the Radar Contact Show consolidates the previous 3 articles about using a Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) and about ATC as customer service organization. If you would rather read about CTAF, you can find the full articles using...
Jeff Kanarish author

What ATC’s ‘Make Closed Traffic’ Clearance Means

“Cessna 9130 Delta, Pensasoda Tower, make right closed traffic. Runway 11, cleared for takeoff.” What has ATC just authorized you to do? More importantly, what has ATC not authorized you to do? The answers are not as straight-forward as you would think...
Jeff Kanarish author

We’d Be Thrilled If You Simply Used Your Call Sign!

I’ve spent a lot of time at this website talking to you about how to format your call sign when transmitting on the radio. While focusing on tiny details, I failed to recognize the bigger problem. Many pilots do not even use their call sign when talkin...
Jeff Kanarish author

Air Traffic Control Tips, Goodies, and Presents

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, or if you prefer, Seasonally Adjusted Greetings. I come bearing gifts of good cheer, ATC tips, techniques, and other goodies. Normally, I’d tell you what’s in store for this edition of Radar Contact. Instead, slip off t...
Jeff Kanarish author

Aviation Headsets < $400: What We Know So Far

The results of the survey about aviation headsets costing less than $400 are in. The survey asked, is there an economical headset that feels good on the head, provides good audio quality, and holds up over time? The answer in this week’s show. Question...
Jeff Kanarish author

When to Make Position Reports in an Uncontrolled Airport Traffic Pattern

Radar Contact is back! In the first show after a months-long break, we’ll talk about when to make position reports in an uncontrolled pattern. You may think you already know the answer, but if you look at the confusing mess in the Aeronautical Informat...
Jeff Kanarish author

NextGen Air Traffic Control and You

In this month’s edition of the Radar Contact Show we are going to look at how the FAA’s NextGen version of air traffic control will affect you. We’ll also look at what it means to be off your assigned altitude and what to do if ATC calls you out for be...
Jeff Kanarish author

Caution Wake Turbulence for the Departing Boeing 757

“Cessna 9130D, caution wake turbulence for the departing Boeing 757, Runway 25, cleared for takeoff.” Gulp! Never fear, ATC is here to protect you against the hazards of wake turbulence. No kidding. ATC uses very specific rules to help you remain clear...
Jeff Kanarish author

Shaky Emergencies and Cranky Air Traffic Controllers

Hey Air Traffic Control, I think I might have a big problem but I’m not declaring an emergency. Standby for further information. In today’s show we are going to discuss aircraft problems that fall into gray areas. We’ll discuss how to break through the...
Jeff Kanarish author

Aircraft Position Reports

Reporting your position on the radio, while in an uncontrolled airport pattern, is a little bit like playing a game of Marco Polo. Other pilots in the pattern rely on your timely and accurate reports to help maintain awareness of your position. Miss a ...
Jeff Kanarish author

How to Work with ATC Around Class B and Other Closed Airspace

If you are a pilot who hates to work with ATC because you feel doing so would restrict your flying freedom, I’ve got surprising news for you. Working with ATC can actually lighten your load and help you enjoy your flight. This is especially true when y...
Jeff Kanarish author

Consequences of Declaring an Emergency with ATC

My airplane has a problem. A big problem. I think I can handle it. No, I’m sure I can handle it. Maybe I can handle it. Can I handle it? I’m not sure.I had better declare an emergency with ATC and get some help. But what if this turns out to be nothing...
Jeff Kanarish author

Use ATC to Save Your Life

Daher-Socata TBM-850. Source: fr.wikipedia.orgEarlier this month, a single-engine turboprop aircraft crashed into the ocean near Jamaica. Early indications are the airplane’s cabin pressurization system failed and the pilot lost consciousness due to hy...
Jeff Kanarish author

When to Not Respond to ATC (Really!)

See no ATC. Hear No ATC. Speak no ATC. As pilots we are trained to respond to ATC each and every time ATC talks to us. Did you know there are times when you should not talk to ATC? It’s true. In this 40th edition of Radar Contact, you and I will cover ...
Jeff Kanarish author

Timing is Everything in ATC Communication

Two people speaking to each other at the same time does not communication make. It’s true in a face-to-face encounter and it’s true when trying to communicate with ATC. When 2 pilots try to transmit at the same time, the result is just a bunch of noise...
Jeff Kanarish author

Control Tower Options

“Dice right, ice cream, alert, 654 Jose. . . Brown Richmond 96 double . . . hut hut!” What?! I’ll give you a hint: Football and air traffic control. Here’s another hint: trying to understand Tower’s instructions does not have be painful if you know wha...
Jeff Kanarish author

What Was That Tower Controller Thinking?

My article, “Walk the Talk” is in the March issue of Flight Training magazine. Pilot (calling Tower): “Cessna 9130 Delta, request left closed traffic.” Tower: “Cessna 9130 Delta, make right closed traffic. Report a midfield right downwind.” Pilot: “Ces...
Jeff Kanarish author

How to Land at the Wrong Airport with ATC Help

Proximity of Clark Downtown (Taney County) Airport to Branson Airport, Missouri. Last week a listener wrote to tell me about an incident in which a general aviation aircraft landed at the wrong airport. He said this reminded him of other incidents in w...
Jeff Kanarish author

Voice Activated Flying

Cessna 9130, move rook to King 1. I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave. Air traffic control is voice-activated flying. Don’t believe me? Consider this. You’re about to enter a tower-controlled airport pattern. Tower says, “Cessna 9130 Delta enter a right ba...
Jeff Kanarish author

Sterile Cockpit Means Quiet!

“Shhh! I’m trying to use the phone radio” Borrowed from “Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure.” In this week’s show, we are going to talk about something called sterile cockpit and how it helps you communicate with ATC. No, Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee, will no...
Jeff Kanarish author

Radar Contact: Airport Traffic Pattern Position Reports

This photo has nothing to do with this article. A photo of an A-10 just increases the overall quality of the website. You are approaching an uncontrolled airport traffic pattern and you need to know where other pilots are in the traffic pattern. How do...
Jeff Kanarish author

Radar Contact 32: Finding Your Way to Talk to ATC

Round dial versus glass. Boeing 767-300 (top) and Boeing 767-400 (bottom). Learning to talk to air traffic control on the radios can be tough. Learning to talk to ATC on the radios while learning to fly a new airplane is even harder. Learning to talk t...
Jeff Kanarish author

How to Switch from Approach to Tower Control

“Chestnut 372 Victor Charlie, you’re six miles north of the airport. Contact Propinquity Tower on 119.6.” That is how the switch from Approach Control to Tower Control should sound. Does it always happen that way? We’ll rip it apart in this week’s show...
Jeff Kanarish author

Land and Hold Short, Kimosabi

Hi-yo Silver! In this week’s show we are going to saddle up with the Lone Ranger and break out a lasso, I mean, LAHSO. I know, we should quit horsing around and get down to business. We’ve got masked heroes on horseback; we’ve got fireworks and explodi...
Jeff Kanarish author

FAA to Pilots: Know the Radio Standard Phraseology

Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming. A couple of weeks ago, the FAA published two draft proposals that will change the way you and I will train for our Private Pilot Certificate and for our Instrument Rating. If the wording in the proposals gets integ...
Jeff Kanarish author