Radio Tuning Done Right

I was checking out an online preview of a video series by a flight instructor who, for a small charge, promised to teach you to be a better pilot. So, of course, I couldn’t resist critiquing this instructor’s web lesson.

He made a lot of little mistakes, mostly having to do with his use of the radios and his phraseology. Two errors stood out.

The first we’ve mentioned in past tips: On the ground, the instructor was given a frequency he should expect after departure, which he dutifully wrote down and read back to the controller. But after switching over to the tower frequency, he never put his next expected frequency in the standby window, which would have been a big help in avoiding his next error.

On climbout, the tower controller instructed the pilot to change to the new frequency. Here’s where he made his subsequent mistake, and it’s the topic of this week’s tip. The numbers he needed to dial in could have been acquired by turning the knob a few places to the right. Instead, this flight instructor spun the knob to the left, and spun it some more, and some more, until he reached the proper frequency.

The frequency adjustment knobs on aviation radios work just like volume knobs. Turning the knob left makes the numbers go down, turning it right makes them go up. If your radio is tuned, say, to 124.85 and you need to tune in 127.05, turn the knobs for frequency selection to the right, not the left, to reach the desired frequency more quickly and easily. The same goes for nav radios.

It might seem like a minor thing, but over the long run it will save you a lot of knob twisting.


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