It looks like Maui air traffic control (ATC) decided to celebrate Christmas in a rather unconventional way, by having some fun with pilots. I initially thought this happened yesterday, but as it turns out this is from last Christmas — that’s not a big deal, as it’s equally fun either way.
Hawaii ATC has fun for Christmas
Before pilots request clearance for their flight, they’re supposed to listen to the automatic terminal information service, known as ATIS. This essentially broadcasts the weather conditions at the airport, and other things that pilots should be aware of.
The information is updated at least once an hour, so when a pilot requests clearance from air traffic control, they are supposed to indicate which ATIS information they listened to, so that the controller knows they have up-to-date information.
Ordinarily that simply follows the phonetic alphabet, so you have update “A,” then update “B,” then update “C,” and so on. Typically they use the phonetic alphabet for this, meaning that you’d refer to each update as alpha, bravo, charlie, etc. However, for Christmas last year Maui didn’t follow the typical phonetic alphabet for ATIS.
Rather than providing “information lima” and “information mike,” Maui mixed it up a bit. The automated system instead used “lumps of coal” for the letter “L,” and “mistletoe” for the letter “M.” Hah. You can listen to the audio of pilots repeating this here:
They’re slightly nicer than this Maui controller
It’s nice to see pilots and air traffic controllers having fun. However, since I was writing about Maui and air traffic control, I couldn’t help but be reminded of this ATC audio from a while back, also from Maui approach. In it, a pilot declares an emergency, and the controller would be hard-pressed to be less helpful.
You can hear that audio here, should you be interested:
It’s not easy to work on holidays and be away from your family (though that’s something many more people are facing this year), so it’s always nice to see people who make the best of it. Kudos to the Maui air traffic controllers for having some unconventional fun with ATIS updates…
(Tip of the hat to SINJim)