Your connection with the sky

No radio use at a towered airport!

Brent on the tarmac

It was now time to accomplish my three takeoffs and landings at a towered airport. In my case, my instructor and I had to make some accommodations due to my Deafness. The tower will need to use a light gun to signal the commands for me as I taxi, takeoff and land.

My instructor, Wayne, called the tower in Salem (SLE) to inform them that a Deaf student pilot needed to complete his three takeoffs and landings at a towered airport. The tower hesitated and told my instructor that they need time to figure out and see if it was possible. They were concerned about how I would receive runway assignments, hold shorts, and ATIS information. I already know Deaf pilots have done this procedure before, but it seemed to be a problem with SLE tower. Wayne contacted the managerial authorities about the situation to see how it would be possible for me to complete this training. Fortunately, they were able to approve our request to train at SLE and they informed the tower to work with us.

On May 13th, Wayne and I flew from 7S5 to SLE. I landed and then we did two takeoffs and landings to get a feel for the traffic pattern and ground procedures. I also was able to see what the light gun looked like from the air and ground. As I felt comfortable with the procedures, I dropped Wayne off and waited for the green flashing light to taxi. I taxied to the runup area and faced toward the tower and blinked the landing lights notifying them that I was ready. The tower gave me a green light to takeoff. I took off and went around in the traffic pattern. The tower did not give me a signal until the base leg. I was cleared to land. I did this procedure two more times. One time, the tower gave me a red light to hold short as I exited the runway. Then I proceeded back to the runway again. After the last landing, the tower gave me a white light to return back to the starting location. It all went very well and quite smoothly.

I picked up Wayne and as we were taxing to the runway to fly back to 7S5, the tower authorities told Wayne that I did a great job. I appreciated their effort in communicating with me using the light signals and making sure I was safe in the traffic pattern. It was quite an experience and every pilot should memorize the light gun signals and its colors in case they lose their radio communications. You never know.

7 Responses to “No radio use at a towered airport!”

  1. Grandpa Ray Says:
    May 16th, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Brent. Great job. You are so right about all pilots should learn and memorize the light signals. That is just one more trick that could make a bad situation a good one. I remember briefly covering the slight signals in ground school classes. That was "back when" I was going for my "ticket" - never completed "my ticket" but should refresh the signals "just in case" of an emergency should I be in the right seat. If I never get my ticket I should at least take a "Pinch Hitter" course. That should at least get me some right seat time. Keep up the good work.
    Fly high, fast and safe!
    Love, Gpa

  2. Brian Redpath Says:
    May 19th, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Hi Brent,
    Nice work. I guess now it's cross country. Have a blast and let us know when it's over. You know your mom and me; we're too nervous if we know you're in the air! It's a better feeling when we know you're back safely. Ha! That said, you can take me up anytime!! Great work, Son. ILY, Dad

  3. Bill Daniels Says:
    June 28th, 2009 at 10:36 am

    My experience is that tower personnel enjoy the opportunity to practice light signals as much as pilots do.

    I had one experience with a sailplane where the battery chose to die unexpectedly just outside the airport traffic area. This left me no option but to hope the tower saw me and gave me landing clearance with a green light.

    I circled above 3000' AGL until I saw the green light.

    Light signals are a very old technology but still have a place in today's digital world. You never know when you'll need to use them.

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