Episode 80. ATC from both sides of the mic, with Kevin Plante

Kevin Plante

Many pilots are intimidated by Air Traffic Control, but veteran controller Kevin Plante says “we’re just another set of eyes for you.” He explains the details of ATC in this wide-ranging episode, including how he handles IFR and VFR traffic differently, what the spacing requirements are for wake turbulence, and when it’s OK to speak plain English on the radio. Kevin is also a very experienced GA pilot, so he shares his perspective from the other side of the microphone, including how he plans a flight knowing what he does about routes and weather. In the Ready to Copy segment, Kevin talks about Special VFR, the one technology he wishes he had at the radar scope, and his favorite bourbon. 


  • How VFR and IFR are different for ATC: “VFR, ideally we’re just another set of eyes for you.”
  • Practicing instrument approaches under VFR: “Sometimes that allows me to give you more of what it is that you’re asking for if I don’t have to provide as much separation.”
  • Wake turbulence: “If you’re in Bravo and you’re following this larger airplane, wake turbulence separation is provided—unless you report them in sight.”
  • Saying unable: “I don’t think that’s it’s necessary to declare an emergency to exercise your authority as PIC.”
  • Asking ATC for a shortcut: “Make ‘em say no.”
  • NOTAMs and controllers: “ATC is not allowed to ask you if you have the NOTAMs.”
  • Fast-talking controllers: “the reason I advocate for controllers to slow down a bit when it’s really busy is because the ‘say again’ or missed calls are something you really don’t need.”
  • Cirrus spin certification myths: “I think that’s a bunch of bull. That airplane has plenty of rudder.”
  • Planning when flying jets: “if you think about things in terms of time, then I think a whole lot of that works better.”


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