We operate vehicles on a daily basis. Whether it’s a short run to the grocery store, or a long haul back to your hometown, how do we get there safely? One of the reasons is because of signals. Signals on a vehicle can show what the operator is intending to do or what he/she is doing. Brake lights means someone is slowing down, turn signal indicates a turn, the horn indicates frustration. As a pilot, we have different signals when it comes to our intent. Aircrafts do not have turn signals or brake lights. So how can an airman “signal” what their intent is? Radios is the primary method to communicate a pilots intentions. Starting my pilot training, I had to complete ground school before I was allowed to have actual flight time. Our materials covered weather patterns, airman laws, flight minimums, aerodynamics, and radio communications. Radio communications by far was the hardest subject. A pilot has to communicate every move they intend to do. Holding at an intersection, crossing an active runway, every turn in a flight pattern! I thought this subject was impossible to learn. My instructor told me to take it step by step and break it down. The basic format of any radio call is what airspace you are in, who you are, where specifically you are, what your intentions are, and elaborating where you are once more at the end. After months of studying radio communications and having the basic format of radio calls drilled in my mind, I was ready to take to the sky. My instructor and I jumped into a Cessna 172 Skyhawk with a tail number of N79118. The tail number of an aircraft is the equivalent to a license plate on a vehicle. I remember before I started the engine I glanced at my instructor to get a faint “you are ready for this” look. She gave me a quick smirk and I yelled out, “Clear prop!” The vibration and roar of the engine spiked my heart rate in excitement. I positioned the plane at a hold short line at the intersection of the runway. “Osceola traffic, Skyhawk 79118 at Alpha 1, departing one-zero, close patter, Osceola,” I called out to surrounding air traffic.
Osceola traffic-what airspace I was in, Skyhawk 79118-who I am, at Alpha 1-where I am specifically, departing one-zero (the runway name) close pattern-my intentions. Close pattern means I am just taking off and flying the plane in the traffic pattern right away after departure. Finally finishing my call with Osceola-elaborating what airspace I am currently in. After I made my call I proceeded to position the plane on the runway. I push the throttle fully in. The aircraft barrels down the runway as I work my rubber to maintain control. I wait to pull up on the yoke until I have reached the proper airspeed. I glance at my airspeed indicator. It reads 80 knots, more than enough to get off the ground. I pull the yoke towards me. The plane lunges off the earth’s surface and I am airborne! The pure joy and excitement of flying surged though my body. I could hardly contain myself. I kept myself in check by telling myself taking off was half the battle. Landing is a whole different ball game. Next, I kept the aircraft climbing until I reached the pattern altitude of 1900 feet above ground level. At that altitude, you have a true bird’s eye view. You can see for miles. The most incredible sight in the sky is in the fall when the leaves are changing color. The landscape looks like a painting with the vibrant yellows and deep reds. Here comes the next radio call. “Osceola traffic, Skyhawk 79118 turning left downwind for one-zero, Osceola.” My intentions were to turn left downwind (flying