Basically, when communicating with air traffic keep it short and sweet. Always remember that the other guy at the end of the line is human and not a god. We should however aspire to maintain good radio discipline as it helps our reputation as responsible pilots. How’s that achieved? Some helpful hints:
1. Engage brain before opening mouth.
2. Initial contact with Scottish Control on, for example, 127.275;
Sant: “Scottish Control, Glider SC” (Sierra Charlie) (Refer phonetic alphabet)
(Note: if in a two-seat glider say “Scottish Control 2 seat Glider T3”. After the initial call you can omit “2 seat” from the callsign)
Gliders don’t need to use the G-XXXX aircraft registration call sign, the comp number or trigraph is ok.
3. They will reply with;
ATC: “Glider SC, Scottish (Control), pass your message”
4. Use the mnemonic CAPACER as the guide for the “message”;
|P||Position:||is 15 nautical miles North West of ERSON…||better to use what they know, e.g. FOYLE, ERSON, GUSSI or INBAS reporting points|
|A||Altitude:||Currently Flight Level 140 …||(reminds them you are a glider)|
|C||Conditions:||VMC…||can be left out but it makes ATC aware of your actual conditions|
|E/R||Estimates/Requests:||For Information Glider SC intends to cross November 560 West to East Not above FL160 close to ERSON. No service required|
ATC’s likely response (in most cases);
ATC: “Glider SC, that’s approved. Call entering and leaving November 560 not above FL160 and maintain VMC.
Note: READ BACK; Always read back a clearance exactly as it is given. In this case (whilst not exactly an ATC clearance) the reply is:
Sant: “Scottish, Will call entering and leaving November 560 not above FL160 and maintain VMC, glider SC.”
Once clear of the appropriate airspace and no longer needing to talk to ATC:
Sant: “Scottish, Glider SC is clear of November 560 East of ERSON, returning to gliding frequencies”
ATC: “Glider SC, roger, have a good flight.”
When talking to ATC don’t gabble. Make clear and concise statements. The rigid language of CAP 413 is not always followed – it can be quite relaxed. To start with write down on a card CAPACER and run a few scenarios through your head. Lastly and most importantly the thing is to relax. It’s just another guy/gal on the end of the line and they know a lot less about flying and your needs as a glider than you do.
Here’s an attempt at a full example. SC is heading SW from Ballinluig to turn Lochgoilhead. At about Kenmore he changes from 130.105 to 127.275 and after a pause to avoid interrupting any ongoing conversation, calls:-
Sant: “Scottish Control, Glider SC”
ATC: “Glider SC, pass your message”
Sant: “Scottish, for information, Glider SC is approximately 10 miles South of INBAS currently at Flight Level 120 and intending to track SW across N560 not above FL160. No service required.”
ATC: “Glider SC that’s approved. Report entering and leaving N560, not above FL160 and maintain VMC
Sant: “Report entering and leaving N560, not above FL160 and maintain VMC, glider SC”
A few minutes later…
Sant: “Scottish, Glider SC entering November 560, currently climbing through Flight Level 115.”
ATC: “Roger, Glider SC.”
A few minutes later and maybe;
ATC: “Glider SC, Scottish”
Sant: “Go ahead, Glider SC”
ATC: “We have an air ambulance in your area tracking S at Flight Level 130, report your Flight Level (ATC usually prefers FL’s above 6000’, otherwise altitude)
Sant: “Scottish, SC is currently at Flight Level 90 – if it helps, I can stay below Flight Level 120 unless I call you.”
ATC: “Glider SC that is helpful, not above Flight Level 120 unless approved – traffic should be clear in about 10 minutes”
Five minutes later…
Sant: “Scottish, Glider SC is now clear of November 560 West of ERSON and intends to return to gliding frequencies.”
ATC: “Glider SC, roger, traffic now clear behind you, have a nice day.”
Sant: “Scottish, roger, I will call again later on the return trip.”
So not exactly proper RT – but in our experience pretty typical.
Lastly and again to repeat, as a way of giving your position in relation to a reporting point one can use Go To (or the non Oudie equivalent) which will give a bearing and distance to a reporting point. You must give the bearing from the reporting point i.e. add or subtract 180° to the GO TO bearing.
If you want to put the reporting points in your nav kit, going Northbound:
So, there we are, good luck and enjoy your soaring.