Sunday, September 01, 2013

Some ATC/Pilot Confusion

I took a personal day on Friday so we could head to the beach a day early.  The weather was looking good at Wilmington with some cloud cover forecast along the way and into KOXB.  I thought great, maybe finally get an approach in actual.
I filed KILG ENO SBY KOXB, and sure enough that's what I got.  I guess I'm only getting the ENO ATR on the way home.  I sumped fuel and completed my pre-flight then launched for OXB.  A hand off to Philly, cleared to four thousand then direct ENO and cleared to six thousand. I was then handed off to Dover and cleared direct SBY.  Somewhere along the way, south of Dover, I was dropped down to four thousand then handed off to Patuxent approach.  Pax descended me to three thousand and I asked for the GPS 14 into KOXB when I reported having the wx.  Pax cleared me direct PFAIR, maintain 3000 until established, cleared for the GPS 14, Ocean City.

The Confusion

As I approached PFAIR I gave a final review of the approach plate and one last WIRE check; wx, instruments, radio, elevation (FAF). I turned for my direct entry on the approach still at three wanting two thousand.  This is where the confusion hit. As soon as I start the outbound leg ATC cancels my IFR, squawk 1200, frequency change approved. I respond that I am above a layer and I do not want to cancel and follow up with a request to descend to 2000. ATC cleared me to two thousand and I'm now IMC. I break out around one thousand , have the field in sight and cancel when I'm positive I can fly the pattern safely if I had to go missed.

I followed up with a call to Patuxent approach (on Sunday). I talked to a supervisor and he had me call back so he could pull the tapes and listen to them. I called back as instructed and had a great conversation about the transcript he had noted.
The supervisor stated the trainee did say 'for your' IFR cancellation, cancel in the air or call blah blah blah, frequency change approved, whatever the typical phraseology is.  Hmmm, I did not hear that at all but I'm not saying he didn't transmit that. As the supervisor explained they are based at Pax and they use a repeater through Salisbury.  The trainee did speak fast and he said he understands how I could have missed part of that.  I assured him I'm not upset or complaining, I always get great service from Pax, I just wanted to learn from what happened since I am in their system every weekend. He thanked me for the call and from there we had a nice chat about pilot/ATC interaction and he said I did the right thing by quickly advising that I was not canceling and made another good choice calling to follow up.

I just wanted to pass my moment of confusion along so the next person can benefit from the experience. The ATC folks are people too, easy to talk to and they seem to enjoy hearing from pilots.


Steve said...

Yup, the ATCers are generally a great group of folks. I've called in before to ask about something that didn't make total sense in the air and they were just as kind.

Great post - and great reminder to all of us that we're all in this together, including the "always learning" side of things!

Gary said...

The folks at Pax always do a nice job. They also do a lot of training as well as Dover, it's the military thing. Sometimes it's an adventure some times it's easy peasy.

Pilot said...

Great post, I wouldn't have thought to call them. I wii now.

Chris said...

Thanks, Gary. As a newbie instrument pilot still getting comfortable in the system, I appreciate reading posts like this. I definitely agree with your end conclusion, the ATC folks are almost always terrific no matter where I've flown (just talked to Pax for the first time this past weekend, actually).