#11 “Over!”

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The Tailwheeler’s Journal #11:
Please forgive me, Tailwheelers, as I once more touch on a subject that has nothing to do with that little wheel which brought us all together.
Radio usage is a subject which sometimes drives me nuts. As you will see from the following, I’m concerned that much of our radio transmissions do no good and clutter the frequency.
Back in the old days there was a pretty rigid radio procedure. You would always end a transmission with “over” so that the listener would know that you were finished with that transmission. You would say “out” if you were done with that session. Nowadays, we’ve relaxed the procedure quite a bit. Our terminology is much less formal and we’ve recognized that we can tell when someone releases the transmit button by the lack of modulation. Releasing that button is now the same as saying “over”. That creates a problem if you’re as goofy as me and realize only after releasing the mic button that you had something else to say. Because, you see, the guy you were talking to thinks it’s his turn to answer when he hears us release the button. So do the five guys entering the pattern who just heard your position report. All six of them transmit at the same time to answer you or to report their own position and intentions. Unfortunately, you had something else to say, so you transmitted at the same time they did. None of the seven of you heard anything because our radios can’t receive and transmit at the same time. The only folks who heard us were the poor guys who were monitoring the frequency and who heard the annoying heterodyne squeal that results when more than one radio transmits at the same time. Under these circumstances the radio has performed its function of giving us a false sense of having communication.
You can often tell that the multiple transmission has occurred. If, when you release the transmit button for the second time you instantly hear part of someone else’s transmission, it’s very likely that you were “stepping” on each other’s transmission. Sometimes that’s a good time for a “say again” transmission.
Let’s all recognize the pitfall of the double transmission and try to train ourselves not to do it. If you do have something else to say after you’ve released the transmit button, wait a bit while listening for any replies. After all, the Great Wombat created us with two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we talk.
As many of you know, I spend hours each day in the air over an uncontrolled airport, so I hear my share of radio transmissions. It’s given me an idea of what I think are some other radio issues: Calling for an advisory over and over. If you don’t get an answer, fly over the sock and stop cluttering the frequency; Idle chit chat. Save it for the ground. It clutters the frequency; Unrequested advisories from the Unicom. It clutters the frequency; “Clear of the active” calls at an airport where the entire runway is visible. Ray Charles could see that you’re clear. It clutters the frequency; And here’s a good one: A male and female share the cockpit. One is the CFI.
They both make calls. If we don’t pay attention to the N number, we tend to think there are two airplanes instead of one. Not much we can do about that one! My favorite (and the one I’ve been guilty of myself on more than one occasion)… having the volume turned down so that you hear no transmissions but are free to transmit to your heart’s content. That’s why I’ve developed the habit of often pulling out the volume knob to adjust it unsquelched. And if you don’t get an answer from someone, try simply saying, “over”. It really works, even without a radio. Thanks for helping me get this stuff off my chest.
Happy Swooping,