Squawk 7600!

Adam and I went flying yesterday. Adam likes aviation, is intellectually curious and isn’t overly nervous; he’s an ideal passenger. The weather was perfect for a flight over Maine’s rugged scenic coast: a high scattered cloud layer, little wind and lots of blue sky. I did the weight and balance worksheet and we got an escort to the airplane.

Calculating aircraft weight and balance | Photo: Adam Courtemanche
Calculating aircraft weight and balance | Photo: Adam Courtemanche

Calling for a fuel truck
Calling for a fuel truck | Photo: Adam Courtemanche

Adam read the preflight checklist while I looked everything over. The fuel tanks were low, so we had line service come top them off. With the preflight complete, we called for a clearance, dialed in our transponder code, and taxied to runway one-eight. After our run-up checklist I switched to the Comm 1 radio and called Portland Tower, who cleared us for takeoff. I immediately taxied onto the runway, aligned the horizontal situation indicator and pushed in the throttle to maximum power. After a short roll, we were off!

During climbout I expected to hear the tower controller pass me off to the departure controller. Nothing, except an unusual amount of engine noise in my headset. Not only did I not hear the tower talking to me, I couldn’t hear them talking to anybody, and knew there was a problem. I fiddled with my headset plugs, verified the frequency, switched headsets with Adam, and turned the knobs on the radio that might make any difference. It was only my third time in the particular airplane, and I wasn’t as familiar with the radios as I should have been.

Having failed to immediately clear the problem and regain communication with the tower, I switched the transponder to 7-6-0-0 to signal a loss of communications as we continued climbing to my requested altitude on runway heading.

After a bit of head scratching, I remembered being able to hear clearance and ground clearly on Comm 2 before takeoff, so switched to that radio and dialed in the tower frequency. Voila, I could hear the tower! I made a brief call to tower, after which they immediately verified they could hear me. With communication finally established, I entered the original squawk code given to me by clearance, called the departure controller, and turned north as originally requested.

Skyhawk 739JW
Skyhawk 739JW | Photo: Adam Courtemanche
Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
I love to fly!
I love to fly!
Adam and Me
Adam and Me
Bath Iron Works (BIW)
Bath Iron Works (BIW) | Photo: Adam Courtemanche
This airplane has a bad attitude
This airplane has a bad attitude | Photo: Adam Courtemanche

We did a touch-and-go on Brunswick Executive Airport‘s (BXM) 8,000×200 foot runway one-niner left before turning east to the coast. Adam used the ForeFlight app on my iPad to get us to Pemaquid Point Light where we did a couple of low photography passes before turned back toward Portland.

Pemaquid Point Light
Pemaquid Point Light | Photo: Adam Courtemanche
Adam using ForeFlight to navigate
Adam using ForeFlight to navigate

The tower controller cleared us to land on runway one-eight while we were still ten miles away from the airport! That surprised me, but made for an easy straight shot approach once I spotted the airport and runway.

Cleared to land on one-eight
Cleared to land on one-eight | ForeFlight Mobile HD

3 Comment

  1. Wow, not being able to hear the tower had to be incredibly nerve-wracking! Scary! I’m glad you were able to establish communication.

    Looks like Adam did a better job taking photos than I did. :-) LOVE the video!

    1. Not nerve-wracking. A little stressful, but a loss of communications doesn’t affect how the airplane flies. Certainly not scary.

      Adam is new to D-SLR photography. He understands the physics and mechanics and has a great eye. You did great, too, darling. :)

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