These are some conversations that airline passengers normally don't hear. In some countries, aviation enthusiasts with appropriate radio receivers listen in on the chatter. The following are (allegedly) accounts of actual exchanges between airline pilots and control towers from around the world. Many of these are widely circulated and the identities of the planes and airports change, so they pretty much qualify for legend status. Some, such as the noise abatement exchanges, are aviation "in jokes". The following compendium is courtesy of friends in the aerospace industry.
While taxiing at London Gatwick, the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727.An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming: "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going? I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between Cs and Ds, but get it right!"
Continuing her tirade to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: "God, you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, US Air 2771?"
"Yes ma'am," the humbled crew responded.
Naturally the ground control frequency went terribly silent after the verbal bashing of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to engage the irate ground controller in her current state.
Tension in every cockpit at LGA was running high. Then an unknown pilot broke the silence and asked: "Wasn't I married to you once?"
Owing to "difficulties", a pilot was making his third approach for landing at London Gatwick on what one assumes was his first time flying into Gatwick.
Tower: "The airport is that large building directly ahead .... the 'other runway' you saw is the M23 motorway. "
Unnamed Flight (in heavily sarcastic voice): "Roger, Gatwick, I think I'm getting the hang of it now."
From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: "I'm f...ing bored!"
Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!"
Unknown aircraft: "I said I was f...ing bored, not f...ing stupid!"
SR-71 Blackbird was crossing the control-zone of London Control. Evidently the controller didn't know the service ceiling of this aircraft is around 30,000 metres (yes metres, not feet!). There are so many variations on this item that the original event has evidently become part of aviation folklore or joke-lore.
Pilot: "Radar, Good Day, Airforce Blackbird, request FL 600(!)"
Controller (amused): "Sir, if you can reach, you are cleared FL 600"
Pilot: "US Air Force Blackbird, leaving FL 800, decending Level 600..."
SAN JOSE, USA
A DC-10 had an exceedingly long roll out after landing with his approach speed a little high.
San Jose Tower: "American 751 heavy, turn right at the end of the runway, if able. If not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."
Pilot: "Oakland Ground, Cessna 1234 at Sierra Academy. Taxi, Destination
Ground: "Cessna 1234, Taxi Approved, report leaving the airport"
NEW YORK, USA
New York Center: "Federal Express 235, descend, maintain three one zero, expect lower in ten miles."
FedEx 235: "Okay, outta three five for three one oh, FedEx two thirty-five."
New York Center: "Delta fahv twuntee, climb one ninah zeruh, dat'll be finah..."
Delta 520: "Uhh... up to one niner zero, Delta five twenty."
New York Center: "Al-italia wonna sixxa, you slowa to two-a-fifty, please."
Alitalia 16: "HEY! You makea funna Alitalia?!"
New York Center: "Oh, no! I make-a funna Delta anna FedEx!"
WASHINGTON DC, USA
WDC Clearance Delivery: "German Air Force 269, you are cleared to Destination Indian Springs via
after take off radar vectors to 4000 feet thereafter present position
direct BOM do not pass BOM at 6000 feet or below after passing 15000 feet
turn right on heading 280 to intercept j156 direct ZZT thereafter intercept
j158 own navigation read back."
GAF 269: "Roger German Air Force 269 is cleared to Destination Indian Springs via after take off radar vectors to 4000 feet thereafter present position direct BOM do not pass BOM at 6000 feet or below after passing 15000 feet turn right on heading 280 to intercept j156 direct ZZT thereafter intercept j158 own navigation and I need another pencil."
Pilot: "Bratislava Tower, this is Oscar Oscar Kilo estabished ILS 16."
Tower: "Oscar Oscar Kilo, Guten Tag, cleared to land 16, wind calm - and by the way: this is Vienna Tower."
Pilot: (after a break for thinking) "Bratislava Tower, Oscar Oscar Kilo passed the outer marker."
Tower: "Oscar Oscar Kilo roger, and once more: you are approaching Vienna!"
Pilot: (another break for thinking) "Confirm, this is NOT Bratislava?"
Tower: "You can believe me, this is Vienna!
Pilot: (again, a break) "But why? We want to go to Bratislava, not to Vienna!"
Tower: "Oscar Oscar Kilo, roger. Discontinue approach, turn left 030 and climb to 5000 feet, vectors to Bratislava."
Pilot with Southern drawl: Birdseed Approach, Barnburner 123 with ya at seven thousand, with Information - excuse the expression - Yankee.
Controller: "Delta 501, you are cleared to LAX via the Citrus3 departure,
climb FL150 initially ..."
Pilot: "Delta 501, actually we want to fly to JFK!"
Controller: "But that's not what your flight plan says!"
Pilot: "Stand by ... Delta 501, we definitely fly to JFK, all the passengers say that!"
ATC: "Eastern 145 - Say altitude?"
Eastern 145: "Altitude."
ATC: "Eastern 145 - Say again altitude and heading?"
Eastern 145: "Altitude and heading."
ATC: "Eastern 145 - Say cancel IFR"
Eastern: "Center, This is Eastern 145 FL 310 heading 260."
This is another in-joke, as there are several other reports.
Tower: "Aircraft in holding pattern, say fuelstate?"
Tower: "Cannot read you, say again!"
Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"
Controller: "USA353 contact Cleveland Center 135.60." (pause)
Controller: "USA353 contact Cleveland Center 135.60!" (pause)
Controller: "USA353 you're just like my wife you never listen!"
Pilot: "Center, this is USA553, maybe if you called her by the right name you'd get a better response!"
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA
ARN851: "Halifax Terminal, Nova 851 with you out of 13,000 for 10,000, requesting runway 15."
Halifax Terminal (female): "Nova 851 Halifax, the last time I gave a pilot what he wanted I was on penicillin for three weeks. Expect runway 06."
Moncton Center (at busy time): "Speedbird 169 cleared direct Chibougamau"
BAW169: "I'm sorry, sir, can you repeat that?"
Moncton Center: "Speedbird 169 cleared direct Yankee Mike Tango"
BAW169: "Direct Yankee Mike Tango for Speedbird 169. What was that name again?"
Moncton Center: "It's called Chibougamau"
BAW169: "Would you say again, please?"
Moncton Center: "Chibougamau. I say again, Chibougamau!"
BAW169: "Oh, how quaint. What does it mean?"
Moncton Center: "It's eskimo for f--k off!"
ACA1147: "Moncton, Air Canada 1147, can you get the winds from 167 above us?"
Moncton Center: "As soon as I get a chance, I will."
(some time passes with continuous radio chatter)
ACA1147: "Moncton, 1147, what are his winds up there?"
Moncton Center: "Standby for that, please"
(more radio chatter)
ACA1147: "Moncton, can you ask company 167 for his winds?"
Moncton Center: "Ok, 1147 and 167, I have a little too much to do for that sort of thing right now. I'll leave it up to you guys to go over to company frequency and pass winds."
Aurora: "Moncton, TRIALS08, we'll be working VFR at 4,500, loitering over the city of Saint John for about the next 10-15 minutes. We'd like radar flight following."
Moncton Center: "TRIALS08, roger, you're radar identified. Are you aware the city has bylaws against loitering?"
Aurora: "Ah... roger that"
(Note the callsign of the answering aircraft)
Moncton Center: "Nova 895 contact Moncton on 127.12"
ARN871: "Over to 127.12, for Nova 871. We'll talk to you later."
Moncton Center: "Maybe sooner than you think."
(a few seconds pass...)
ARN871: "Uh, Moncton, they didn't want to talk to us on 127.12..."
Moncton Center: "See what I mean?"
A female pilot at Sydney's Bankstown airport was in a hurry to get
airborne, she made the following request: "Bankstown Tower Cessna ABC
requests an intersexual departure runway 29R."
Almost straight away Tower reply: "ABC, The full length is available."
A United Airlines 747 captain tries to make light banter with Sydney,
Australia, Approach Control ...
Captain: "Good morning, Sydney, this is United XXX, we're 50 miles out and have your island in sight ..."
Approach: "Roger, United ... you're cleared to circle the island twice, then it's okay to land."
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Korean Air 1234 : "Please say runway and brake situation".
Auckland Tower : "Previously landed Beech twin prop reported half an inch of standing water on runway, no report on braking effectiveness as brakes not required".
Korean Air 1234 : "Ehhh... Say again...".
Auckland Tower : "Previously landed aircraft says did not need to use brakes, ten to fifteen millimeter deep water on runway".
Korean Air 1234 : "Ah thank you !".
The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign "Speedbird 206":
Speedbird 206: "Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway."
Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."
The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."
Ground (with arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, haff you not been to Frankfurt before?"
Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but I didn't stop."
Pilot: "Good morning, Frankfurt ground, KLM 242 request start up and push back, please.""
Tower: "KLM 242 expect start up in two hours."
Pilot: "Please confirm: two hours delay?"
Tower: "Affirmative KLM 242"
Pilot: "In that case, cancel the good morning!"
Control: "AF1733, You are on an eight mile final for 27R. You have a UH-1 three miles ahead of you on final; reduce speed to 130 knots."
Pilot: "Rogo', Frankfurt. We're bringing this big bird back to one-hundred and thirty knots fer ya."
Control: (a few moments later): "AF33, helicopter traffic at 90 knots now 1 1/2 miles ahead of you; reduce speed further to 110 knots."
Pilot: "AF thirty-three reining this here bird back further to 110 knots"
Control: "AF33, you are three miles to touchdown, helicopter traffic now 1 mile ahead of you; reduce speed to 90 knots"
Pilot (a little miffed): "Sir, do you know what the stall speed of this here C-130 is?"
Control: "No, but if you ask your co-pilot, he can probably tell you."
Tower: "Lufthansa 893, number one, check car on the runway."
Pilot: "Roger we'll check the car on the runway."
Pilot: "Frankfurt Information,this is Delta Bravo Zulu. We are now over
Tower: "But you were supposed to call Munich Information!"
Pilot: "Yes, I know, but I prefer your program."
Pilot: "Lufthansa 1234, maintaining 240 standing by for higher (request
flight level 390)."
Controller: "Lufthansa 1234 maintain 240."
Pilot: "How long do we have to expect to stay in 240?"
Controller: "Lufthansa 1234 stand by."
Pilot (5 min later): "Lufthansa 1234 still standing by for higher. If we have to stay another five minutes in 240, we will not be able to reach our destination due to fuel consumption."
Controller: "If I clear you up now, you will meet the opposite 737 in 270 and you will not reach your destination for sure."
Pilot: "Approach, Lufthansa 1635, what is this aircraft doing at my
Approach: "Lufthansa 1635, what makes you think it is your altitude, Captain?"
A beautiful summer day with good thermals, near Billund airport, Denmark:
Billund ATC: "Gliders 82 and D5, state position and altitude?"
82: Overhead Coal Lake, 6400 feet."
D5: "Same position, same altitude."
ATC (cool, dry voice): "So should I go get my collision report form?"
Pilot: "Tower, this is KLM 190, I am out of fuel."
Tower: "Roger KLM 190, emergency services on standby. Reduce airspeed to best glide. Do you have the runway in sight?"
Pilot: "Uh...tower, I am on the south ramp; I just want to know where the fuel truck has gotten to."
Control: "What's your altitude?"
Helicopter Pilot (female): "1000 feet"
Control: "What's your heading?"
Helicopter Pilot (female): "175"
Control: "What's your speed?"
Helicopter Pilot (female): "150 k"
Control: "What's your bra size?"
Helicopter Pilot (female): "36B........AAAHHHHH SHHIIIITTTTT"
(Although credited to Holland, this is erroneous - Europe uses the metric system and the size would have been 90ish cm)
Never let it be said that Germans don't have a sense of humour.
Taxi-ing down the tarmac, a DC-10 abruptly stopped, turned around and returned to the gate. After an hour-long wait, it finally took off.
Concerned passenger to flight attendant: "What, exactly, was the problem?"
Flight attendant: "The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine. It took us a while to find a new pilot."
"Pilot: "Tower, please call me a fuel truck."
Tower: "Roger. You are a fuel truck."
KANSAS CITY, USA
On a really nice evening, a Piper Malibu was being vectored into a long line of airliners in order to land at Kansas City.
Tower: "Malibu three-two-Charlie, you're following a 727, one o'clock, three miles."
Malibu: "We've got him. We'll follow him."
Tower: "Delta 105, your traffic to follow is a Malibu, eleven o'clock and three miles. Do you have that traffic?"
Delta 105 (long pause and then in a thick southern drawl): "Well...I've got something down there. Can't quite tell if it's a Malibu or Chevelle, though."
LOS ANGELES, USA
SR-71 Blackbird pilot Brian Shul reported one exchange. His SR-71 was screaming across Southern California, 13 miles high and its crew were monitoring cockpit chatter as they entered Los Angeles airspace. Though they didn't really control the SR-71, LA monitored its movement across their scope. The SR-71 crew heard a Cessna ask for a readout of groundspeed.
"90 knots" Center replied.
Moments later, a Twin Beech required the same.
"120 knots," Center answered.
An F-18 smugly transmitted, "Ah, Center, Dusty 52 requests groundspeed readout."
Center (after a slight pause): "525 knots on the ground, Dusty".
The SR-71 realised how ripe a situation this was for one-upmanship: "Center, Aspen 20, you got a groundspeed readout for us?"
Center (after a longer than normal pause): "Aspen, I show 1,742 knots"
No further groundspeed inquiries were heard on that frequency.
In similar vein (airport not stated), an SR-71 crew were listening in on a similar "match this" contest. A Cessna asked to clear to 4000 ft, a corporate jet requested clearance to 12,000, an airliner to 18,000, etc. Finally the SR-71 called ATC.
SR-71: "Request clearance to 80,000 ft"
Tower: "Just how in hell do you plan to get up there?"
SR-71: "Uh Tower, I'm descending to 80,000".
Tower: "United 393, do you have a visual on the runway?"
United 393: "United 393, roger, tower. We have visual on runway."
Tower: "United 393, then please advise why you are still in holding pattern."
United 393 (confused, after a pause): "Tower, since when has the runway been, errm, circular?"
Tower (without missing a beat): "United 393, please maintain your current altitude and leave the M25 London Orbital motorway at Junction 15. Follow the M4 eastbound and you will find Heathrow airport due south of Junction 4."
British Airways flight asks for push back clearance from terminal.
Control Tower: "And where is the world's most experienced airline going today without filing a flight plan?"
London Controller: "CBN438 you are cleared direct Dover VOR."
Pilot: "Roger, copy cleared direct Kosky VOR."
Controller: "Ok, cleared direct Kosky VOR."
VAN NUYS, USA
For months after California's Northridge earthquake of 1994, aftershocks rocked the San Fernando Valley and Van Nuys Airport. One morning about three weeks after the initial quake there was a particularly sharp aftershock. Moments later on Van Nuys' ground control frequency: "Uh, four-three-kilo would like to file a pilot report for moderate turbulence on the east taxiway..."
O'Hare Approach Control: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, eastbound."
United 239: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this... I've got the little Fokker in sight."
O'Hare Approach: USA212, cleared ILS runway 32L approach, maintain speed 250 knots.
USA212: Roger approach, how long do you need me to maintain that speed?
O'Hare Approach: All the way to the gate if you can.
USA212: Ah, OK, but you better warn ground control.
STUTTGARTTower (in Stuttgart): "Lufthansa 5680, reduce to 170 knots."
Lufthansa-Pilot (Im Anflug auf Berlin kurz nach dem Brünkendorf VOR): "Warum holen Sie uns denn schon so früh so weit runter? Sie wissen doch, daß das Fliegen in derart niedriger Höhe für uns sehr unwirtschaftlich ist.'"
Controller. "Ja, Sie müssen schon entschuldigen, aber wir haben sehr viel Verkehr von Tegel aus in Ihre Richtung, und mit dem könnten Sie dann zusammenstoßen."
Pilot: "Na, das wäre ja noch viel unwirtschaftlicher."
Translation supplied by Daniel Rossbach:
Lufthansa-Pilot (approaching Berlin from Brünkendorf VOR): Why did you
make us descend so early? You are aware that flying in such a low
altitude is highly uneconomical for us, aren't you?
Controller: Yes, we are sorry but there's a lot of traffic from Tegel heading your direction and you might find yourself on a collision course.
Pilot: Well, that would be even more uneconomical.
A Pan Am 727 flight engineer waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard the following:
Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak English."
Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German aeroplane, in Germany. Why must I speak English?"
Unknown voice (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody war!"
Tower: "...and for your information, you were slightly to the left of the
centerline on that approach."
Speedbird: "That's correct; and, my First Officer was slightly to the right"
München Tower: "LH 8610 cleared for take-off."
Pilot (LH 8610): "But we are not even landed."
Tower: Yes, who is then standing at 26 south?"
Pilot (LH 8801): "LH 8801."
Tower: "OK, then you are cleared for take-off."
The noise abatement chatter is an aviation "in joke" as there are several variations:
Tower: "Alpha Charlie, climb to 4000 ft for noise abatement"
Pilot: "How can I possibly be creating excess noise at 2000 ft?"
Tower: "At 4000 ft you will miss the twin engine coming at you at 2000 ft, and that is bound to avoid one hell of a racket".
United 402: "United 402 requesting climb to flight level 310"
ATC: "United 402 maintain flight level 250 for noise abatement".
United 402: "What do you mean maintain 250 'for noise abatement'?".
ATC: "If you climb and hit the traffic at 270, there will be a big noise.".
Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."
TWA 2341: "Control, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"
Tower: "Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"
Air Force One was over the UK a few years ago and called up a USAF base. This, allegedly, was part of the exchange.
Pilot: "Requesting Radar".
ATC: "What is you position?"
Pilot: :"You got radar you find us"
ATC: "Air Force One we're changing frequency"
Pilot: "What frequency are you changing to?"
ATC: "You've got 720 channels - you find us!"
Controller: AF123, say call sign of your wingman.
Pilot: Uh... In that case you have traffic!
There's a story about the military pilot calling for a priority landing because his single-engine jet fighter was running "a bit peaked." Air Traffic Control told the fighter pilot that he was number two, behind a B-52 that had one engine shut down.
"Ah," the fighter pilot remarked, "The dreaded seven-engine approach"
Controller: "Air Force 53, it appears your engine has.... disregard transmission, I see you've already ejected."
(After-dinner speech material in military aviation circles) A two-engine F-111 was flying escort with a B-52 and generally making a nuisance of himself by flying rolls around the lumbering old bomber. The message to the B-52 crew was, "Anything you can do, I can do better."
Not to be outdone, the bomber pilot announced that he would rise to the challenge. However, the B-52 then only continued its flight, straight and level. Perplexed, the fighter pilot asked, "So? What did you do?"
"We just shut down two engines."
Aircraft display teams are well aware that aviation enthusiasts listen in on cockpit chatter. Hence the two items below.
Two fighter aircraft in formation
Right Pilot: "Counting down. On zero turn left."
Left Pilot: "Did you say 'left'?"
Right Pilot: "Right!"
Left Pilot: "Right ..."
Two display jets approaching on collision course (for last minute evasive manoeuvre):
Pilot 1: "Counting down. On zero turn left."
Pilot 2: "My left or your left?"
"ATIS" (Automated Terminal Information Service) is a recorded message broadcast at busy airports giving pilots the current wind, air traffic, and runway information and each time the information changes, the broadcast is revised, with each revision being assigned the next letter in the phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo etc). This designation is included in the broadcast, which is identified as, "Information Alpha..." Bravo, Charlie, etc. At ATIS-equipped airports, pilots are required to listen to the recording prior to contacting Approach Control or the tower and must repeat the "Information so-and-so" identifier when they make their initial radio call. Sometimes, the results can be hilarious...
Approach: "33W, confirm you have 'Hotel.'
33W: "Uhhhmm, we're flying into McCarren International. Uhhhmm, we don't have a hotel room yet."
The next several calls went something like this call to United 583.
Approach: "United 583, descend to Flight Level 220."
United 583: "United 583, down to Flight Level 220. We don't have a hotel room, either."
This, again, is an in-joke. Information hotel was current.
Tower: "Delta 220 confirm you have hotel."
Pilot: "I'm on stopover, won't be needing a hotel room"
Information zulu was current.
"This is McCarren International departure information Delta. 2100 zulu. Arriving aircraft contact approach at 118..." [sudden silence]
The silence was followed by a non-automated human voice: "You lousy machine, why do you always do this to me?"
CRITTERS ON THE RUNWAY
A Citabria had just landed and while listening to the tower and other pilots noticed an obstruction on the runway.
Tower: "85 Uniform, Taxi to position and hold."
Pilot: "Position and hold, 85 Uniform."
Citabria Pilot: "Tower, there's a dead seagull on the right side of the runway near the windsock."
Tower: "Roger. 85 Uniform, cleared for takeoff. Watch for a dead seagull on the right side of the runway."
Pilot: "85 Uniform, Dead seagull traffic in sight. "
A little later, the Citabria overheard:
Tower: "Citabria 123, cleared to land 30. Caution - there's a buzzard trying to eat the seagull on the runway."
A Cessna was holding on the runway for departing cross traffic when a deer ran out of the nearby woods, stopped in the middle of the runway, and just stood looking at the plane.
Tower: Cessna 123 cleared for take-off, runway 10.
Pilot: "Cessna 123, there's a deer down here on the runway."
Tower: Roger 123, hold your position. Deer on runway 10 cleared for immediate departure.
The Cessna is very gently taxi-ing towards the deer, finally spooking it back into the woods.
Pilot: "Cessna 123, the deer has left the runway."
Tower: "Roger 123. Cessna 123 now cleared for departure, runway 10. Caution, wake turbulence, departing deer."
United 293: "Tower, there is some sort of dead animal at the far end of runway 11."
Tower: "Roger, United 293, an airport catering truck is already on its way."
A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. ATC were attempting to locate the aircraft on radar.
ATC: "What was your last known position?"
Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."
Student Pilot: "I'm lost; I'm over a lake and heading toward the big E."
Controller: "Make several 90 degree turns so I can identify you on radar." (short pause)...
Controller: "Okay then. That lake is the Atlantic Ocean. Suggest you turn to the big W immediately ..."
Pilot Trainee: "Tower, please speak slowly, I am a baby in English and lonely in the cockpit"
Lost student pilot: "Unknown airport with Cessna 150 circling overhead, identify yourself."
Tower: "Aircraft on final, go around, there's an aircraft on the runway!"
Pilot Trainee: "Roger" (pilot continues approach)
Tower: "Aircraft, I said GO AROUND!!!"!
Pilot Trainee: "Roger"
The trainee doesn't react in the anticipated manner; he lands the aircraft on the numbers, rolls to a twin standing in the middle of the runway, goes around the twin and continues to the taxiway.
Tower: Cessna 172 say your altitude?
Cessna (Student Pilot): We're at flight level 3500.
Tower: Roger Cessna, contact NASA space center for further instruction.
(Flight levels start at 18000 feet and upwards. FL310 is shorthand for 31000 feet. The student pilot has just informed ATC that he is flying at FL3500 or 350,000)
Cessna 152: "Flight Level Three Thousand, Seven Hundred"
Controller: "Roger, contact Houston Space Center"
Student Pilot: "Tower this is errm Cessna 332 final for errm ... runway 11"
Tower: "Cessna 332, you're not on final. Final is when you don't have to turn anymore to get to the runway."
Approach: "Beech 998, you're showing two thousand feet and intermittent Mode
C. Say altitude."
Beech 998: "Tower, Beech 998 is intermittently at two thousand feet."
The traffic was heavy, and the weary local controller had apparently heard
all the "blocked" and "stepped on" responses he could take when he made
"How come every time I key my mic, some idiot starts talkin'?"
One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. One of the DC-8 crew got on the radio to take the mickey out of the smaller plane.
DC-8: "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"
Cherokee Pilot (sarcastically): "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one."
Unknown landing signal officer to carrier pilot after his 6th unsuccessful landing attempt: "You've got to land here, son. This is where the food is."
VIRGIN Flt: "Every time I come to MIA you women controllers give us a hard
Tower: "For the nine years I have been a controller, I have never had a problem handling a VIRGIN."
Pilot: "Approach, Federated 303's with at 8000' for vectors ILS, full stop.
Approach: "Unable Federated 303. The ILS is out of service."
Pilot: "We'll take the VOR then."
Approach: "Sir, the VOR's in alarm right now. Standby."
Pilot: "OK, guess it'll have to be the ADF then."
Approach: "303, unable the ADF right now for traffic saturation."
Pilot: "OK, approach. State my intentions."
ATC: "Alitalia 345 continue taxi holding position 26 South via Tango check for workers along taxiway"
AZA: "Ali345 Taxi 26 Left a via Tango. Workers checked - all are working"
Female Controller: "United 123 heavy, can you climb to flight level 330 in
the next five to ten miles?"
Pilot: "Well, Ma'am, we'll try and get it up that fast, but we can't guarantee it."
Female Controller: "I understand. A lot of you guys have that problem."
Tower: 95 Delta, do you read the tower?
95D: 675, sir
Tower: 95 Delta, Say Again
95D: I think it is 675.
Tower: 95 Delta, What do you mean by 675?
95D: I mean I think I read "Elevation 675 feet" on the tower as I taxied by for takeoff, but I am too far away to read it now.
Tower: 95 Delta, you are cleared to land. Please give the tower a call ON THE TELEPHONE after you have tied down.
Tower: "Piper N 4444D, traffic at your 2o'clock, 500 ft below you."
Piper N4444D: "We see a light coming towards us."
Tower: "Please look again Piper N 4444D, there's probably a plane behind that light."
Tower: "Airline XXX, it looks like one of your baggage doors is open."
Captain: "Ah, thanks tower, but you must be looking at our APU door."
Tower: "Okay, Airline XXX, cleared for takeoff."
Captain: "Cleared for takeoff, Airline XXX."
Tower, during the takeoff roll: "Airline XXX, ahh ... it appears that your APU is leaking luggage..."
Tower : "Wind calm. No reported traffic. Use runway 32 or 14, your choice."
Pilot : "Which runway is longer?"
7MA: Cessna 187MA is 5 NE, landing, with the numbers.
Control: Roger 7MA, make straight-in runway 22. Say type landing.
7MA: We're a Cessna 182.
Control: Negative, say type landing.
7MA: Uh, 7MA is a Cessna 182 slant Uniform.
Control: 7MA, I say again, say type landing.
7MA: (Silence) A good one I hope.
Another "in joke" in commercial aviation, often told in after-dinner speeches:
First Pilot Voice : "Roger, I am holding at 3000 over NF beacon."
Second voice : "NO ! You can't be doing that ! I AM holding at 3000 over that beacon."
First Pilot Voice (after pause): "You idiot, you're my co-pilot."
ATC: "Cessna G-ARER What are your intentions? "
Cessna: "To get my Commercial Pilots Licence and Instrument Rating."
ATC: "I meant in the next five minutes not years."
Controller: "Speedbird 12, are you a heading?"
Pilot: "We are always a heading."
Controller: "AAL235 contact tower on 117.30"
Pilot: "Roger, tower on 123.50"
Pilot: "... request heading to avoid."
Controller: "To avoid what?"
Pilot: "To avoid further delay."
Pilot : "Approach, how far from the airport are we ?"
Control : "N823, the faster you go the quicker you'll get here."
Pilot : "The first officer says he's got the field in sight."
Tower : "Roger, the first officer is cleared for a visual approach runway 27; you captain, continue on that 180° heading, and descend to 3000 feet."
Pilot : "I can see the golf country club down below... looks like there are
a lot of controllers out today !"
Tower : "Yes sir, there are... they're caddying for DC-10 pilots like you."
Tomahawk: "F-XAA is final 29, touch and go."
Tower: "XAA is cleared touch and go, 29".
(several long circuits later)
Tomahawk: "F-XAA is final 29, touch and go"
Tower: "F-XAA is cleared touch and go, 29. How many more circuits were you planning on making?"
Tomahawk: "We though we'd make one or two more."
Tower: "Roger. I just wondered because we were calculating your landing fees, and you're up to $13,000 now."
Tomahawk: "That was out last one!"
(another long delay)
Tower: "Just kidding. Next time, read your flight supplement."
Pilot: "Approach, Acme Flt 202, with you at 12,000' and 40 DME."
Approach: "Acme 202, cross 30 DME at and maintain 8000'."
Pilot: "Approach, 202's unable that descent rate."
Approach: "What's the matter 202? Don't you have speed brakes?"
Pilot: "Yup. But they're for my mistakes. Not yours."
Pilot: "Barnburner 123, Request 8300 feet."
Bay Approach: "Barnburner 123, say reason for requested altitude."
Pilot: "Because the last 2 times I've been at 8500, I've nearly been run over by some bozo at 8500 feet going the wrong way!"
Bay Approach: "That's a good reason. 8300 approved."
Controller: "CRX600, are you on course to SUL?"
Pilot: "More or less."
Controller: "So proceed a little bit more to SUL."
Control : "Air France 123, are you an Airbus 340 or 320 ?"
Air France : "340, of course !"
Control : "So would you mind switching on the other two engines and giving me 1000 ft/min or more climb ?"
Tower: "Aeroflot 2267, vacate at highspeed taxiway Delta."
Captain: "Aeroflot 2267, we pay all runway, we use all runway!"
Controller (many turbulances over Africa): "Sabena 123 maintain contact
Pilot: "Control, I can't even maintain contact with my own seat!"
Pilot: "Camden Tower, this is Tomahawk Romeo Victor, request instructions
Tower: "Romeo Victor, just push the nose down."
Tower: "Phantom-Formation crossing control zone without clearance, state your call-sign !"
Pilot: "I'm not silly..."
Tower: "Hawk 20, is this the same aircraft declaring emergency about two hours ago?"
Pilot: "Negative, Sir. It's only the same pilot."
Tower: "Delta Zulu Romeo, turn right now and report your heading."
Pilot: "Wilco. 341, 342, 343, 344, 345..."
Tower: "Delta Romeo Zulu, confirm you are inbound to Sulz NDB?"
Pilot: "Affirm, but we don't receive it."
Tower: "Mission 123, do you have problems?"
Pilot: "I think, I have lost my compass."
Tower: "Judging the way you are flying, you lost the whole instrument panel!"
Tower: "The airfield is at your 2 o'clock-position."
Pilot: "Is that local time or GMT?" (Greenwich Mean Time)
Another irritated ATC: "Put your compass on 'E' and get out of my airspace."
Tower: "November 2115L, are you a Cessna?"
2115L: "No, sir...I am a male Hispanic."
Control: You're unreadable, say again.
Power-glider: I've turned off the engine, is that better?
Control: (looong pause)
ATC to Flight 123: "Slow to 300 knots please."
After several moments, it was apparent the crew had not complied with the first speed reduction and was overtaking the inbound plane ahead of them.
ATC to Flight 123: "Slow to 280 knots."
This was soon followed by a request for 250 knots from ATC when the crew still had not slowed the airplane.
Finally, the now-frustrated controller ordered, "Gentlemen, the number is 250. Either slow to it or turn to it!"
Ground Controller: "Cessna 2141U, are you the Cessna behind the Cessna in front of you?"
Control: Citation 584, if you stop calling me Center I'll stop calling you a twin Cessna!
PAO Tower: "Mooney 23D, traffic is a Cherokee just entering downwind from the left 45."
Mooney 23D: "Uhhh, tower, 23D...only traffic I see is a Cessna."
PAO Tower: "Mooney 23D, follow your traffic directly ahead, an, um, inverted Cherokee just abeam the numbers."
Center: "LH xxx, line up Runway 29, you're number one!"
Pilot: "Roger, lining up 29 and Lufthansa is always number one!"
Center: "Clipper XXX, turn left 3 degrees."
Pilot: "Unable to make such little turns."
Center: "...Clipper XXX, so turn left 20 and turn back 17 !"
Tower: "US Air 224, your gear seems not to be in place, Sir."
Pilot: "You operate your tower, I operate my aircraft, okay?"
Controller (after shift changeover): "Attention all aircraft: previous controller is no longer a factor."
ATC: "Pan Am 1, descend to 3,000 ft on QNH 1019."
Pan AM 1: "Could you give that to me in inches?"
ATC: "Pan Am 1, descend to 36,000 inches on QNH 1019"
Beech Baron: "Uh, ATC, verify you want me to taxi in front of the 747."
ATC: Yeah, it's OK. He's not hungry.
The controller who was working a busy pattern told the 727 on downwind to
make a three-sixty (do a complete circle, usually to provide spacing
727 pilot: "Do you know it costs us two thousand dollars to make a three-sixty in this airplane?"
Controller (not missing a beat): "Roger, give me four thousand dollars worth!"
LH741:"Tower, give me a rough timecheck!"
Tower: "It's tuesday, Sir."
Tower: "Shamu Two Two, please state estimated time of arrival."
Pilot: Ok, let's see..., I think Tuesday would be nice."
Pilot: "Ground, XY-line 195, requesting start-up."
Tower: "Sorry, XY-line 195, we don't have your flight plan. What is your destination ?"
Pilot: "Same as every Monday, to Leipzig."
Tower: "But - today is Tuesday !"
Pilot: "WHAT? But we're on holiday Tuesdays!"
Tower: "Have you got enough fuel or not?"
Tower: "Yes what?"
Pilot: "Yes, SIR!"
Take-off runway 28, Landing runway 16, alternate 14
Tower: "Alitalia 194 - taxi to runway 28, hold short"
AZ194: "Ahhh, yes, taxi to runway 28"
Tower: "AZ194, cleared for take-off"
AZ194: "Ahhh, two minutes, need preflight (checks)"
...30 seconds later...
Tower: "Alitalia 194, YOU ARE CLEARED FOR TAKE OFF NOW."
AZ194: "Ehmmm, yes, yes, take off in two minutes"
...in the meantime, runway 16 had a 737 with a flat tyre, runway 14 was choc-a-block, so control took a 767 from Cincinnati to 28. The Crew of the 767 had been flying for 8 hrs and were not in the mood for delays.
Tower: "Alitalia 194, expedite take-off, we have Delta 767 final on 28 2 miles!"
AZ194: "Ahhh, we need 30 more seconds."
DL104: "Hey Spaghetti, take-off or I'll f*ck you from behind!"
Pilot: "Condor 471, don't you have a Follow-me?"
Tower: "Negativ, let's just see how your find your own way to Gate 10."
Tower: "Delta Oscar Mike, squawk 0476."
Pilot: "Say again."
Tower: "Squawk 0476."
Pilot: "Four, zero...? "
Tower: "Want to get an easier one?"
Tower: "Delta Bravo Charlie, is your Squawk Really 7 0 4 6?"
Tower: "I can hardly believe it, you show a height of minus 90 feet...."
Tower: "Hotel Papa Oscar climb four thousand to six thousand and maintain."
Pilot: "Hotel Papa Oscar, climbing flight level 100."
Tower: "Hotel Papa Oscar, climb to flight level 60 and maintain."
Pilot: "But 4 and 6 is 10, isn't it?"
Tower: "You're supposed to climb, not add up."
Tower: "Flamingo 019, do you have a "Springbock" in sight, twelve o'clock
five miles crossing from left to right ?"
Pilot: "If you mean a 737...?"
Tower: "Yeah, you got it, you got it !"
Tower: "Delta Fox Alpha, hold position, Marshall will park you."
Pilot: "Roger. Looking out for John Wayne."
Tower: "Delta Mike Zulu, after landing cleared to taxi Alpha 7, Alpha 5,
Whiskey 2, Delta 1 and Oscar 2."
Pilot: "Where is that, we don't know our way around here?"
Tower: "That's ok. I've been here only for 2 days, too."
Eggenfelden Info: D-EXXX pls. report persons aboard.
D-EXXX (C-172): Pilot and two pax and one dog.
Eggenfelden Info (after Cessna finally bounced to stop): Assume the Pilot in Command was the dog ?
Tower: "Height and position?"
Pilot: "Well, I'm 1,80 m and am sitting in the front left"
A veteran airline captain, apparently checking in with ATC on the wrong
ATC: "Say your position?"
Pilot: "LM 184 is at holding fix again (for the seventh time)"
Radar: "What's your destination?"
Pilot: "Standby, I've forgotten, I have to ask the co-pilot."
The following is actually a classic aviation joke and I've often heard it at aerospace seminars:
Pilot: We are approaching too fast! Flaps!
Pilot: We are not gonna make it! More flaps!
Co-pilot: more flaps!
Pilot: Wow, We are not gonna make it! All the flaps!
Co-pilot: All the flaps!
Pilot (after barely landing): Unbelievable! I have never ever seen such a short runway!!!
Co-pilot: Yes, but look how WIDE it is!
Another classic from pilot speeches at seminars. Sometimes a passenger gets to ride in the cockpit (my brother-in-law has done so). "Mike" is part of the phonetic alphabet and "with mike" would mean the ATIS information current at the time the pilot called in.
Pilot: "This is 1234 Delta five miles north for landing with Mike." Control: "1234 Delta, you are clear to approach" etc.
After the landing, the passenger asks "Why'd you have to tell them that I was with you?"