Night Flight

Years ago, it was relatively easy to fly into Washington, DC class B airspace (or TCA at the time). Things have changed considerably in recent years for obvious security reasons.

One summer evening, I decided to fly along the Potomac river on the Virginia side. This is clear of prohibited airspace (P-56) over the monuments and the White house. Still, it provides an excellent view of the DC skyline. Heading south, I made the radio call to Washington tower, designated as such or just tower. My designation was 59A.

59A: Washington tower, helicopter 8559A

Tower: Washington tower, 59A, what is your location?

I was not ready for this, so I stumbled...

59A: Uhhh, uhhh, tower, 59A, uhhh standby...

USA-1: Washington tower, USA-1 inbound Legion bridge

USA-1 is a medevac helicopter. The unique designation is for priority routing purposes.

Tower: USA-1, Washington, be advised of another helicopter in area, he's not sure where he is

USA-1: Tower, USA-1

USA-1 acknowledges the advisory, which was about my cluelessness. At this point, I got my act together:

59A: Tower, 59A, I figured out where I am

Tower: Well, we're all on the edge of our seat...

There wasn't much traffic that night and the air traffic controller had a sense of humor.

59A: Tower, 59A is south bound 10 miles

Tower: 59A, Washington, continue south

The rest was rather uneventful, but an obvious lesson learned: think before you speak, not the other way around.