Anybody get that request to call tower?


Well-Known Member
Well everybody gets chewed out by a controller sometime. And if you haven't, it's going to happen sooner or later!
I got into a little bit of an argument with a controller today. It was nothing serious, but I was just wondering if anybody has ever been asked to call the tower after a flight? I've seen some circumstances where the controller was just moody, and other times too when pilots have really messed things up for a controller and everyone esle in the pattern. I heard a pilot in the Phoenix area also got a violation from a tower controller. Has anyone else seen this happen? That seems pretty rare to me. I've never seen it happen before on a flight.
hehe...I have one better than that...I..umm...this guy I know was working on his instrument ticket, and the ink on his private was still wet. This guy was building x-c time for the instrument, when he and his saftey pilot got caught up in inadvertant IMC. Well, they managed to get on the ground ok (thanks to a HH-GPS) even though they lost the vor signal because they were down to about 800AGL (yes, please hold your applause till the end), anyway, when they finally got on the ground, and were finished kissing it, this person..called the tower to ask if they needed to report that!! HAH! We..uhh...they were REAL lucky that the controler was cool about it and didnt report them! (okay, now you can clap)....and yes, the person in question has learned from his mistakes (both of them).
On one of my solo cross countries before my private checkride I flew right over my destination airport and promptly entered Dresden class D at 3000 ft MSL (class G goes to 2500 ft MSL where I was). I pretty much realized where I was when I saw a Eurowings regional turboprop about 1000 ft above me. So I turned around and found my destination airport after all and when I landed I was given the telephone number of a Berlin controller to call. He chewed me out and I felt like a really big dummy. I just said "yes, it was my mistake" and "I'm sorry" about 400 times. We hung up and that was the last I heard of it.

What I learned from this:
I knew that if I missed the airport and flew too far south that I would be in Dresden airspace if I was too high. I should have planned for this possibility by flying at 2400 MSL. If I had done that I would have had no problems because I would have been under Dresden class D.
I heard a pilot in the Phoenix area also got a violation from a tower controller.

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Curiously, what was it for, if you can recall?

Yeah I, too, know "this guy" that took off the wrong direction on a runway. He was an instructor on a training flight from the Maxwell AFB aeroclub. There it's always an intersection takeoff for GA and mostly to the north because of another airport 4 miles south. Off they went to the north when cleared to takeoff to the south. The controller didn't say anything until they returned. "Cessna XYZ call the tower when you shut down." He was cordial, but put out becuase there was a T-38 on an eight-mile final landing to the south! UGH. No certificate action, though! Whew!
You didn't happen to get into an argument with someone at SDL did you. I just couldn't/woudln't believe it! Those guys are soooooooooooooo nice and utterly professional that they would never stoop to coping an attitude with someone!


Not all of 'em are bad at SDL but I avoid it as much as I can. I listen to 'em all day on the scanner so I hear many, many things.
The pilot in Phoenix is the only time I've ever heard of anyone getting a violation. I hear people getting chewed out a lot, but I never hear of any violations. Anyway, my story yesterday was that I taxied off the runway after landing and than sat there for a while. The airport wasn't busy at all so I was going to let a student pilot do his first call to a controller ever. We were rehearsing it when the groud controller called us and asked if we were on frequency. I said yes of course, and then the guy proceeded to tell us not to sit there and block intersections like that because sometimes the airport is very busy. I told him, understandable, but I realized it wasn't busy and so I was just going to let a student pilot get his first call in. The controller finally just said Roger.
When I was instructing, I got a call from Miami Approach at home on my day off.

It seems that one of my students doing a solo x-c had mistaken Miami International for Tamiami. They have the same runway configuration, except MIA is a heck of a lot bigger. He didn't land, but got close enough to affect traffic and probably violated the class B.

We talked about what happened and he recommended that I give the student some additional instruction. We decided that on departure, he fly due west until well clear of the class B, then go north.

A different instructor's student was on a x-c to Tampa O'Knight and did a touch-and-go by mistake at MacDill AFB. Again, they had the same runway layout and he was talking to OKnight Tower and looking at the AFB. Again, they solved the problem with additional training.

A good lesson here is to back up your pilotage with GPS, VOR, or localizer.
I haven't ever been told to call the tower, but a while ago I asked to tower to call ME after they screwed me over big time... screwed out of around $80. We called ready to go at an intersection in a Seminole. Then a minute later a J-41 called ready, and two Archers did too. They launched one Archer, then the J-41. Then told me we had a 3 minute wake turbulence delay. Our CP was in one of the other planes, and he got pretty upset about it... so requested a different runway (which we couldn't). So they leave. Then we get cleared into position and hold... then they decide to let two more planes take off in front of us at the midfield intersection, while we waited on the runway! So after we took off and they said to contact departure, I told them to please call me at their availability and gave my number. They didn't call, so I called 2 hours later, and talked to the tower manager.
He just said "it happens." Bastards!
I've called approach before, but never had the tower call me. I was on my IFR ride, on an IFR flight plan, under radar coverage, with approach, and popped out of the clouds to see a Seminole crossing about 100 yards in front of us. They were also IFR. Approach wouldn't answer us, so when we got back on the ground, and the examiner went upstairs to type out my temp ticket, I called them and chewed them out, then the examiner called after he was through with my paperwork. The examiner was furious after that. I felt sorry for the guy that had the commercial ride after me.

I've had the tower call my flight school as were were opening the office door. The controller wanted to apologize for his incredibly poor vector to final on an ILS approach. The instructor didn't tell them that I'd made a mistake, too, but the debrief was rather intense.

I've also had the tower call the flight school (different one) to report one of the school airplanes causing the controllers grief. A freelance instructor had picked a fight on a very busy frequency and wouldn't let the point of contention drop. For some stupid little thing, I think it was having to do a go around, the instructor blocked the frequency for about five minutes. That instructor was invited to take his business elsewhere.

Bust into airspace, bust altitude by 300' or more, cause an airliner to go around or take evasive action, or cause a fighter escort and you'll hear from the controller requesing a call.

That call is a good place to either hang yourself, or clear the air. If they want a call, they haven't filled out the violation paperwork yet. If you act polite and hear them out, chances are the controller has decided you are a decent sort and won't bother them again. If you scream and yell, expect to hear from the FAA's Enforcement Division.

Unfortunately, there are many airspace violations in Southern California that result in FAA action. Most go through the remedial training program, but some do cause further consequences.

Jedi Nein
Bust into airspace, bust altitude by 300' or more, cause an airliner to go around or take evasive action, or cause a fighter escort and you'll hear from the controller requesing a call.

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Umm, you will not get in trouble for causing an airliner to go around. I could see if the guy taxied slowly passed 3 exits so he could get to the end, but if it was just bad luck, it seems everyone gulps it up and does what they need to do.

I was expecting to hear the phone number yesterday, our radio's were recieving and transmitting very poorly, to the point where we could not understand each other. I was guessing on what they were saying. Needless to say it was quite hectic. Later we thought it would have been silly for them to give us the phone number, as we would not have been able to understand what they were saying. I gave them a call to say sorry, and thank them for their pateince, however no one picked up.
I have never been told to call the tower myself, but I was privy to an instance where some poor sap got reamed out by an approach controller while I was on a cross country to Lakeland FLorida. The controller kept giving another aircraft headings and the pilot kept calling them back. Then the pilot asked for a heading change to fly directly to Ft. Myers, his destination,and the controller got pissed and said he had been trying to get him to turn towards his destination airport for the past ten minutes or so. He asked the pilot if he had a piece of paper and a pen handy. The pilot replied affirmative and was given a phone number to call as soon as he was on the ground in Ft. Myers. The pilot said he would and then a funny thing happened. The pilot came back on frequency and said he just realized his DG had precessed and that was why his headings were off so much. He then asked if he still needed to call on the ground. To this the controller replied with an affirmative "YES!" I am sure that pilot learned his lesson as did I. Check that DG...
This question is a little off topic, but I was just doing a little research on the route to becoming an air traffic controller, just kicking the idea around. Not an easy topic to get the scoop on, but I did learn that you have to be 30 or under when you start working, which means I'm too old, dagblammit. Anyone know why they have that kind of age restriction?
I have to secound Jedinein's advice,

If they do ask you to call odds are they have not started the violation process. I suggest dropping any attitude and peppering the conversation with a lot of "yes sir" and "I appolgize sir" type of phrases. 9 times out of 10 this will be the end of it.

I do know of an instructor in Vero who got violated by the tower recently, there was no request for a phone call, just sent the violation in.
You seriously have to be careful what you say to a tower controller. They are 'agents' of the FAA and anything that you say can and WILL be held against you. The big trick here is that they don't have to tell you that. If you say, "yes sir mister controller, I'm really sorry about taxiing across that runway, it'll never happen again", you may think that everything's a-ok because the controller was understanding and really nice, but really you may have just sealed your fate.

I'm just completing an introductory aviation law class that even goes as far as to say that you shouldn't call the tower. And if you're asked to visit, don't show up. Call your lawyer. She described one case that she almost won. Apparently, the pilot was asked to visit the tower, which he did. At the hearing, she had her client stay at home. When she cross-examined the tower controller she said, "Do you see the pilot here today?" After putting his glasses on and looking around the room, he could not identify the pilot. Unfortunately for the pilot, he signed the guest book at the tower. He lost.

I don't know if I'd have the balls to disobey the tower, but the truth is, once you're on the ground they have no authority over you.

Same goes for FAA ramp checks. Don't start talking to somebody about that time that you buzzed the beach over at Daytona. You may just be talking to somebody from the FAA. They don't have to identify themselves unless you ask. And for part 91, you don't have to let them in your airplane if you don't want to. They can look through the windows, but that's as far as they can go.

Obviously this can all be avoided by being as safe as possible, but we all know that mistakes are made. I've made several myself. Just remember though, if you make a doozy, report it to NASA and that might help you to get out of a pickle.

They don't have to identify themselves unless you ask.

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Not sure if you're talking about an official ramp check or not...but if you are, then yes, they do have to identify themselves before any of the process begins.
yeah, you're right about that. But an FAA guy can walk up to you after a flight and say, "Wow, that wing sure does look wet... I remember this one time that I had a C-152...blah blah blah..." And you're thinking this is just some guy that rents a hangar at the airport so you say, "Yeah, it's leaking fuel pretty good, but I'm going to wait a couple weeks to get it fixed. Heck for that matter, the left fuel gauge doesn't even work!" Wooops.


"Well, that's interesting. My name is Mr. Smith and I work for the FAA. Can I see your pilot's certificate?"

"Wow, that wing sure does look wet..." ...

"Yeah, it's leaking fuel pretty good"

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I hope he got the wet rate Ahahahahahah