Anonymous asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 7 years ago

Could I be in trouble with air traffic contollers?

I am a private pilot and I fly small single engine planes under VFR conditions. The other day I was on a cross country trip to a large airport that has all the bells and whistles required to handle accomodate arriving commercial flight in IFR conditions. The controller asked me a strange questions that I have never been asked before. he asked me if I was planning on coming in on a visual approach. I might have misunderstood what he meant but it seemed to me that he was asking me to choose between a VFR approac or an instrument approach. I felt like saying," I am a private pilot in a single engine airplane in VFR conditions, of course I am going to come in visually, d'uh"!! But in the spirit of having a sense of humor I actually said," yes, I do think I will keep my eyes open during the approach it works better if i use my vision during landing". I was just joking but he seemed kind of mad. I know that the radio is only for proper communication, not messing around, so could I be in trouble? Altough he doesn't know my name he knows the aircraft registration which means it wouldn't be hard to track me down. What is the worst that might happen?

Also, can anyone with more flying experience than myself explain why he asked a single engine pilot in VFR conditions if I was going to land visually? I have been around airports my whole life( my dad was a pilot) and I have never heard of anyone performing instrument approaches in a c-172 in VFR consitions, except for training. I ave never been asked this question before and it just seemed strange to me


Just to clarify what I meant by registration is the aircraft's call sign.

8 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Trouble? No, but for your flippancy don't expect good service if you are flying that aircraft to that airport and that particular controller is working your sector. Very unprofessional. Please hit yourself in the head six times for me with a heavy object.

    It's possible that the controller had been working a lot of IFR traffic and was still sort of stuck in that mode. controllers DO occasionally make mistakes. If you'd had your head screwed on right you would have simply replied "affirmative, I'm VFR".

  • 7 years ago

    No not really. They do have a sense of humor, contrary to popular belief. If there is traffic they need to get to the point . They asked in case you may have been training as some pilots will fly the IFR approach on a clear day for practice.

    If the ground had called you and said I need to talk, then they would have given you an earful.

    Depending on traffic they are generally way ahead of what has to happen so by saying something out of the ordinary makes them stop and think about what you said.

    It's no big deal but just be aware of traffic density and generally repeat what they say. (Call sign_____ planning visual approach etc.)

    This way they know for sure you understood the question and it's to the point.

  • 7 years ago

    As a controller at a high-volume airport with commercial flights right and left he is so accustomed to IFR arrivals that he probably just asks everybody whether they are making a visual approach or not. Even if they're in a 172. As to his apparent annoyance with you, he was probably so busy that he likely forgot about it within minutes. If he didn't give you a phone number and tell you to call the tower after you landed then you can be pretty sure you are not in any trouble. Just remember those guys tend to lose their personalities when they're under that kind of stress and a sudden sense of humor coming at them gets them steamed sometimes.

    If I haven't been violated for the things I've done in controlled airspace then I'm sure you're fine. I've had those controllers wanting to stick their hand through the radio and strangle me a time or two. It's because they talk so fast!

  • 7 years ago

    I have been in the air a couple of times when other pilots did stupid things, on time a pilot flew into a cloud on down wind, the other one I do not know what he did, but in both cases I heard the controller say" taxi to the base of the tower". They got whatever was coming to them right then and there. I also have been IFR and heard the controller read a phone number and give an instruction to call upon landing.

    I think you would know by now if your controller was going to gig you.

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  • 7 years ago

    at big airports all planes fly standard approaches, and you should be familiar with them as part of your flight planning.

    your initial callup should have stated what approach you were planning to fly. if it's visual, say so. no ambiguity, and the controllers can then sequence you in with other traffic. their first priority is ifr traffic, remember, with vfr traffic kept out of the way. many commercial sops specify instrument approaches regardless of weather conditions.

    flying ifr in vmc may sound silly, but, among other things, it guarantees flight following. you will be on somebody's radar at all times.

  • james
    Lv 5
    7 years ago

    perhaps he wanted to know if you intended to land there. ..or were you just passing thru ?

  • 7 years ago

    i think no.. its is difficult to get in traffic contollers

  • 7 years ago


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