runway lights at night
3 min read

Throughout my often-interrupted flying history, there have been many memorable events, some standing out for how I scared myself through dumb cluck mistakes, and some for their delectable simplicity and beauty. Regarding the good memories, I imagine we all remember city lights at night, remarkable sunrises and sunsets, wildlife seen from the air, autumn colors, and so on. Perhaps one recalls memorable crosswind landings, pulled off successfully with flailing arms and legs and much sweat and a lot of satisfaction after the tiedowns were secure.

I hope others will write here about some of their most memorable experiences.

The one I offer here has no drama, no risks avoided or skills demonstrated; it was just, well, a great place to be that evening. It was a place that only airmen can experience.

runway lights at night

Smooth air, runway in sight and a great controller – a magic moment.

I used to live in Rochester, Minnesota, where I owned an old but very nice Cessna 172. On this occasion, I had flown the Skyhawk to Lubbock, Texas, to see my mother after a brief emergency hospitalization. She was doing well, so the visit was short. When I decided to head home, my brother, who was then at loose ends, asked if he could come along. We left Lubbock a bit later than we intended, heading up into the Texas Panhandle on a pleasant summer day, making a couple of fuel stops.

The afternoon cumulus buildups started tossing us around, so I kept climbing to stay above the bumps, until in early evening we were at 10,000 ft MSL among higher tops. My brother—who’d brought no shoes but flipflops—was freezing, we were tired, and I wanted to stay VFR. So, nearing Omaha, we decided to call it a day and started our descent. A call to Omaha approach brought a remarkable woman’s voice, I have to say one of the sexiest voices I have ever heard or could ever hope to hear. My brother looked at me open-mouthed and said, “Wow.”

As we descended below the cloud bases, it was dusk, with some haze making the lights of Omaha look quite pretty. The air was dead calm, and we felt as if we were just suspended in the air. This sexy lady must have been alone in the cab, because she stayed on the radio throughout.

As we began a long final approach, the breathy lady cleared us to land, again in a soft, alluring, and truly remarkable tone. When established, I took my hands and feet from the controls, and the air was so still that the old Skyhawk just slid down final as if on a wire. After the smoothest touchdown of my life, she cleared us to the ramp: “Welcome to Omaha. Good niiiiight.”

I looked at my brother and he at me, both of us wide-eyed. I said, “Care for a tower visit?” Simultaneously, we both said, “Naaaah.” Kelvin said, “I don’t want to spoil this; I just want to imagine what she looks like!”

The FBO was welcoming and helpful, got us a room at a nice motel across the road, and advised us the airport restaurant was the best in town. There we found tablecloths, skilled waiters, great food, and considerable tolerance for our casual dress, including my brother’s flipflops. A leisurely meal, a glass of wine, and to bed.

Our interaction with the sexy-voiced controller, and our glassy-smooth ride to a whisper-soft landing at Omaha took all of 15 minutes, but my brother and I recalled it with enormous pleasure for many years. I still rather wish we’d made that tower visit! It was a magic moment that non-flyers simply could not experience. Please tell us one of yours.

Hunter Heath
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8 replies
  1. AfricanEagle
    AfricanEagle says:

    I heard “my” very sexy voiced controller a couple of years ago, overflying Switzerland in a C172.

    Enroute from Rome, Italy to Munich, Germany, weaving our way through deep valleys between the hightest mountain peaks, the lady controller’s voice, low tone with a trace of accent, was unforgettable.

    As was the rest of the trip, flying all the way to Norway and back.

  2. Morgan
    Morgan says:

    Had my sexy controller moment last weekend flying from Houston to Lufkin, Houston Center never sounded so good.

  3. Bob B
    Bob B says:

    Back in the late 80’s there was a similar voice at Ft Myers, FL tower/APCON She sure could get and keep a pilots attention.

  4. Steve, A.
    Steve, A. says:

    That was a beautiful story! Some moments where just made to remember. Thanks for sharing! I have had a few of my own over the years. One was when I experienced a forced landing in my 1946 Ercoupe, and the “Proverbial Farmer’s Daughter”, dressed in an all white pant suit, jet black hair, was waving me in with a long yellow scarf, to her father’s grass field! I swear, she was my providential angel, and after that day I never saw her again!!!

  5. Warren
    Warren says:

    Except for the voice, been there done that. Night flying as said by one of my passengers, Kevin, this is almost as exciting as when my child was born. I dought that, but it was a nice complement.

  6. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    My Magic moment was two summers ago. My young sons then 3 and 2 had been enjoying playing in the hangar and knew “daddy’s plane”. I allowed them to sit in the front seat of my ’50 170A. They were very careful and seemed comfortable. It’s important to me that they accept and appreciate aviation. So they became acclimatized over several hangar trips.

    It was decided to give them a ride to the run-up area and then likely back to the hangar. It’s a little noisy and in the spirit of gradual immersion.

    Don and Brock were safely strapped into their car seats and had little car radio earphones on. They could see my wife and I with our ‘clarks so they wanted headsets too. I fired up the 0-300 and ran through the pre taxi list. Allana was keeping an eye on the boys. I asked for clearance to the run up and suggested we might return to the hangar after the run up. Once cleared away we went down the taxi way. The boys were looking all over and grinning ear to ear.

    On arrival at the run up bay, I turned into the wind and started down the checklist. I got to advancing the thottle and checking mags. I could hear Allana talking to them but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. Back at idle I asked if everyone was ok. Allana smiled at me and said they were saying “Go Daddy Go” during the run-up. Well, that was the perfect sign to ask for clearance to the active.

    We had a short flight just out of the circuit and came back for one of the smoothest landings I’ve ever executed. I really wanted the experience to be perfect for the boys. It was!

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