Then, practicing landings while solo I saw an airplane on the numbers. “Uuhh, Bell Fountain Traffic Low wing on the field, what is your intention?” I know he identified himself, but it went in one ear and out the other and did not sink in. I did hear him say that he was going to take a while with his run-up and would not move until I cleared the active. I could not repeat his Make and Number. “Roger that, Low wing, you’re going to stay there until I am out of your way. Bell Fountain.”
As student pilots, we spend more time flying to and from the practice area than we do on the Radio.
I have taken many classes in foreign languages, German (9 years), but also Japanese, Arabic, and Italian. There is no progress until everyone starts mumbling together. In order to learn a foreign language — and that’s what aviation communication is — you have to practice speaking and listening. “Hai, watashi wa Houston Oil Company ni hatarai ite imasu.” This includes the cultural context. You can ask a man about his wife in any language, but it can never be good-sounding Arabic. Aviation has its own cultural contexts, but no instructor I have had seems to understand the question, let alone provide answers.
As an instructor of performance based learning for adults, I know the importance of hands-on practice. We learn by doing.
The other side of communication is LISTENING. In fact, it is probably the more important half. One of the many reasons I like flying solo, is that I can LISTEN to all the radio traffic. I hear people talking aviation and it starts to make sense. A few hours of that and you get used to what to listen for and what to listen to.
If you are a CFI, you need to provide repeated opportunities for your students to listen and talk on the radio.
Fortunately, the controlled field I fly is a state-licensed private strip that serves training, corporate, and whatever. So, the tower is VERY forgiving. Apparently, I never had to speak a “B” before I called in “Cessna 2-1 Baker Charlie would like to taxi for departure on One-Niner.” and the controller rogered with “Cessna BRAVO Charlie 2-1…”. Oh, yeah, I remember now…
Michael E. Marotta