Isn’t it fun when something new makes you completely nervous? I’m talking hands shaking, mind racing, words jumbled, acting like you are about to ask your high school crush out on a date nervous… that’s how I feel when it is time to call ground for an IFR clearance. I have jumped out of planes, flown in an F-16, and tamed wild mustangs in Wyoming (ok not that last one), but the point is, I don’t get nervous very often! This tiny little 20 second round of communication is so important to get right, that it puts me over the edge every time.
My instructor John is no fool, he writes everything down, from our altimeter setting, to the runways in use, to wind speed and direction. When it comes to IFR clearances, he makes no exception. Pen ready, he calls ground to get the info and jots it down for a perfect read-back, with a little pilot talk flare that always makes me smile. John suggested I use the acronym CRAFT.
CRAFT stands for:
- Clearance limit- A fancy way of saying “the airport where you plan on landing”
- Route- Your filed flight route. This may change after take off, but you still have to read your filed route back to the controller.
- Altitude- The controller will tell you what altitude to climb to and also may give you an expected time when you will reach cruise altitude.
- Frequency- This is the frequency you will switch to once you leave the airport where you are departing from.
- Transponder- Set your transponder to the code the controller gives you. Put it “in the box”.
This is a great way to read back, in order, what the controller needs and also have it written down so you clearly understand where you need to be, and how you should be communicating. I like patterns, routines, and lists so this is right up my alley!
Today we fly to Goodland, Kansas for another IFR Cross Country flight! I sent John a text yesterday that read, “Tomorrow, keep your paws off the radios”. Today it’s time to face my fear of talking about IFR clearances… I guess I asked for it. For someone who talks for a living, I sure am a wuss when it comes to this. Here’s to doing things that scare you!
One more thing… I came home last night to this gorgeous sunset off the balcony of my place and thought to myself, I flew through that earlier today! Pretty cool if you ask me 😉