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No ATC call? Maybe they need coffee.

Former IFR editor Paul Berge is also former air traffic controller Paul Berge. He finished his career voluntarily--and not because of this incident--but the story points out how sometimes taking the initiative as a pilot works out best:

I'd been awake for 22 hours and was five hours into my second shift. I could never sleep in the eight daylight hours between shifts. By 3 a.m., I was drained. One target crawled across my scope on vectors for the ILS. Alone in the radar room, I stared. Seven stories above me, a lone tower controller had the same radar picture but, because she wasn't radar-certified yet, couldn't vector unsupervised.

Sitting upright, I watched the target. One sweep it was there, and the next, it vanished. I blinked, increased the radar gain until I could see every cornstalk and silo for 60 miles, but no Bonanza. Its flight progress strip was in front of me but no radar target.

I called: "... radio check." No answer. I called again: "... if you hear me, ident." Nothing. Where the hell was it?

Then, over the speaker, the tower controller who also monitored my approach frequency said, "You looking for the Bonanza?"

"Yeah."

"He's on the ramp."

Pause. "Here?"

"Yup."

I filed the flight progress strip, looked at the scope and realized I'd fallen asleep seated upright, pen in hand and the pilot wisely joined the localizer and called Tower.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

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Article Details
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Title Annotation:SYSTEM NOTES; air traffic control
Author:Berge, Paul
Publication:IFR
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2012
Words:238
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