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Last night I was left downwind, abeam the tower, on my second circuit of the pattern. The controller said “helicopter xyz, cleared for the option runway 24, to the numbers”. I already had been given a restriction to stay east of rwy 18; as there was an airplane in right traffic there. What is the significance of “to the numbers” in this clearance? Is he just telling me not to land long?

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Typically it's phrased as "direct to the numbers" and means you should proceed in a straight line from your present position to where the runway numbers are painted on the pavement. This instruction can be issued to fixed-wing aircraft as well, but perhaps not from as wide a range of starting positions. It relieves you of any previous restrictions.

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    $\begingroup$ Ok, I see this described elsewhere as nonstandard phraseology for “make short approach” $\endgroup$
    – user28642
    Feb 20 '19 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the edit @Pondlife, I must have been pretty tired when I wrote that $\endgroup$ Feb 21 '19 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ "Make short approach" means "don't go as far in the downwind as you normally would"—instead of turning base to set up for a two-mile final, set up for a one-mile final; instead of a normal one-mile final, make it a half-mile. "Direct the numbers" doesn't literally mean that your base leg should be in line with the approach end of the runway but it should be as close as you can get it. It's definitely more intense than "make short approach." $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Oct 17 at 3:21

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