When we were still in training I overheard a T-38 Check Pilot once lament, ‘We have to start going to different places for our cross-country checks…’
“Well, that’s an interesting comment,” I thought to myself. “Wonder what brought that about?”
After a few moments of asking around I discovered what it was all about. Apparently ‘Buzz,’ a student in our other section, was on his Instrument/Nav Check to Tinker AFB, OK. And along the way, the Air Traffic Controllers were giving him “tips’ on what to do next. Like when it might be a good time to go off freq (frequency) for 2 minutes, to give a PIREP (Pilot Report on the observed weather), or when to ask for vectors to the TACAN Holding Fix, and what direction he ‘might’ turn in the holding pattern, and so forth. The Check Pilot was amazed at just how much help Buzz was receiving.
Well, as it turns out, Buzz’s dad was an ATC Controller in the San Antonio Center and his uncle worked the Fort Worth Center! So, Buzz had given them a ‘heads-up’ on his call sign, and he was then essentially handled with Kid gloves!
In further discussion with Buzz, he had been using his Dad all through pilot training, to keep an eye on him on check rides! While the rest of us were blowing out the sides, top or bottom of our areas, Buzz was getting radar vectors to stay within the confines of the area. Couldn’t ask for better service I suppose…