For those who don’t fly, have you ever listened to pilots talking to Air Traffic Control on the radio? If you have, you know it sounds like gibberish. You can listen to it at http://www.liveatc.net
Flying out of a controlled airport intimidated me for sure. I’m not sure if I can understand that gibberish. A few lessons in and I STILL had no clue what they are saying. When my instructor said next lesson I would be working the radio, I was prepared to sound like an idiot. Not only would I do the radio but the pre-flight and then be ready for power on and power off stalls and ground reference maneuvers! That’s a lot of work. So obviously, radio work slipped out of my mind and I forgot to study. Oops. No excuse though and I felt extremely guilty. So you bet your butt I went home that night and memorized all the radio frequencies and the “radio script” for the lesson the next day.
The lesson I forgot to study for was the Touch and Go lesson so having to work landings and the pattern for the first time I was overwhelmed enough without the radio work, so my instructor took over most of it. I just had to listen more and say when she should call them. I understood some of it but definitely not enough to do it on my own.
The next day, I was feeling more prepared. I called them up before taxing to the runway and my instructor prepped me for what they would probably say back so I wouldn’t have to worry about catching it the first time. I probably sounded only a bit like an idiot because I wasn’t sure if I needed to repeat “Cessna” again with the last 3 digits of the tail number when confirming what to do.
I talked to ATC again before taking off and it wasn’t a catastrophe! The only thing I didn’t talk to them was getting a squawk number when in the practice space. Heading back is when I finally felt confident. I called them “Republic Tower, Cessna ####, at Twinspan Bridge with information kilo,” I don’t remember exactly what they said back to me but I confirmed my instructions “Straight in to 32, ###” BAM! I felt like a boss.
My hope is that my next lesson I can do all the radio work. Out of the two lessons I had getting a handle on the radio work is the thing I did the best and didn’t get me down on the other problems I had with maneuvers and landings. There are still a lot of things to learn so getting on this early will make me feel better.