As a new pilot I was nervous about ATC communications … until I heard this exchange. Now I know they are human after all.

As background, in the New York Terminal Area there’s a commonly used VRP, namely the Tappan Zee Bridge. A few years ago the New York Governor decided to name it instead after his father, Mario Cuomo. Nobody likes the new name, except perhaps Mario himself. This was the exchange I heard one day:

New York Approach: “123XY welcome back. What are your intentions now?”

123XY: “We’re going to go to the Cuomo bridge and then we want to head back south through the corridor.”

New York Approach: “Okay I’m only going to clear you back into the Bravo if you call it the Tappan Zee and not the Cuomo bridge.”

Long pause …

123XY: “Can you repeat that please?”

New York Approach: “Just disregard. I was trying to make a joke.”

Airline heading to La Guardia: “Cleared visual approach 22 … we got your joke!”

Another airline: “Descend 3000 … I liked your joke.”

David Brigstocke
White Plains, New York

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