“Augsburg Tower, Cessna Echo Hotel November Foxtrot is three minutes east of Sierra inbound for Runway 07, full stop landing”
“November Fox, Sierra is closed due to glider traffic in the area, do you have another request?”
My friend Kees, an American flight instructor flying with me for the first time in Europe, looked over at me, with a quizzical, amused look on his face.
“Augsburg Tower, November Fox is eight minutes east of Whisky One inbound for runway 07”
“November Fox, advise when you reach Whisky one”.
Kees glanced at the chart, and pointed at the coordinates for Whisky One. We buzzed west over the town of Augsburg, cut north, and, eight minutes later (abreast of the power tower that marks Whisky One) we turned right, along the highway, and I called back in.
“Augsburg Tower, November Fox is at Whisky one and now eastbound at 3000 feet”
“November Fox, advise when you reach Whisky Two”.
“November Fox, will call at Whisky Two”
“Hold it”, said Kees, “There IS NO WHISKEY TWO on this map.”
“Right,” I said, laughing.
“Where’s Whisky Two?”
“Sorta up there,” I gestured vaguely. “Round about halfway back from Whisky 1 and stay on the right side of the highway – the instructor pointed it out when I was on my checkride.”
“You have GOT to be kidding me,” he said, shaking his head.
Even when armed with a map, European flying and ATC procedures can still shock even a seasoned pilot like Kees.
Studying the air charts certainly helps, but European ATC has its own way of doing things, and Americans saying it’s not efficient is unlikely to result in any changes!
But that doesn’t mean you have to feel stupid if you’re unfamiliar with one of the dozens of local conventions.
When an ATC asks to do you something like head for a point that doesn’t exist on your map, throw it right back at them, politely:
“Am unfamiliar with Whisky Two and don’t see it on my map. Please give me more precise directions!”