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Air Traffic Chatter


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A few years ago, someone posted a story about air traffic control chatter in the LAX area. The jist of the story was that a pilot in a relatively slow aircraft was chatting to atc, then a pilot in a faster aircraft came on the net with an air of superiority. Meanwhile there was a military aircraft on the net that called in his speed and course and silenced everyone. I think the narrator of the piece was in the military aircraft.

I've searched for this thread without success. I wonder could anybody help me unearth it.


Thanks in advance;



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Speaking of "Blackbirds" a B-2 was flying low and slow over Pasadena last Sunday. They typically do a fly over at the Rose Parade and I guess they like to do a pre run as this is not the first time I have seem them doing this.


I was at the PCC swapmeet that day as it flew over. One of the parking guard kids was standing next to me when I told him what the plane was. (Steath bomber). He said...


"What makes it so steath, sounds pretty loud to me." :dopeslap:


I was taken aback stumbling for a answer as I was in shock and said it's stealth to radar detection. He caught me totally off guard with that really viceral question.

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I found it here:





C-150: Tower this is N-1234 can you give us a ground speed please?

Tower: Roger N-1234 we show you at 110 knots

Mooney: (Showing off a bit) tower this is N-5678 can you give US a ground speed please?

Tower: Roger that N-5678 we show you at 201 knots

F-18: (Showing off a lot and said with a Texas drawl). Heh Heh.. tower how about XXXX, can you give US a ground speed please?

Tower: Roger XXXX we show you at 580 knots.

... then in a distant crackly voice,

"Tower, we'd like a ground speed too please..."

Tower: Ummmm ahhh .... must be something wrong with our equipment here, I show you at 1500 knots sir.

"No sir, this is a SR-71. Thank you for the reading."


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Hey Thanks guys I found it.

There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane. Intense, maybe. Even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.


It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.


I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn't match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.


We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot asked Center for a readout of his ground speed.


Center replied: "November Charlie 175, I'm showing you at ninety knots on the ground."


Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional, tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the "HoustonCenterVoice." I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country's space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the HoustonCenterControllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that... and that they basically did. And it didn't matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.


Just moments after the Cessna's inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed.


"Ah, Twin Beach: I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed."


Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.


Then out of the blue, a Navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios.


"Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check."


Before Center could reply, I'm thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a readout? Then I got it -- ol' Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He's the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet.


And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion:


"Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground."


And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done -- in mere seconds we'll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now.


I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn. Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet.


Then, I heard it. The click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: "Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?"


There was no hesitation, and the reply came as if was an everyday request: "Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground."


I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: "Ah, Center, much thanks. We're showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money."


For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the HoustonCenterVoice, when L.A. came back with, "Roger that Aspen, Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one."


It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day's work.


We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.


Written by Brian Shul, from his book Sled Driver.


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Silver Surfer/AKAButters

In the spirit of Air Traffic Chatter, I love this one:


Sent by a Marine Pilot


In addition to communicating with the local air traffic control facility, aircraft are required to give the Iranian Military Air Defense Radar a ten minute 'heads up' that they will be transiting Iranian airspace. This is a common procedure for commercial aircraft and involves giving them your call sign, transponder code, type aircraft, and points of origin and destination.


I just flew with a guy who overheard this conversation on the VHF Guard frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai . It's too good not to pass along. The conversation went something like this...


Iran Air Defense Radar: 'Unknown aircraft, you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.'


Aircraft: 'This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.'


Iran Air Defense Radar: 'You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!'

Aircraft: 'This is a United States FA-18 fighter. Send 'em up!'

Iran Air Defense Radar: (no response - total silence)


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I work at a tower, and one of the funnier ones that happened here was an a/c did not make his departure time and was trying to make up as much time as he could. He twice requested from ground to get into line to take off and was denied. On a third request the controller again denied his request but then said he does have some good news. Of course the pilot asked what that might be, and the controller said "but I did save a lot on my car insurance". The pilot tried to reply back but just laughed. Of course it is very much against policy, but it was funny at the time.

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One of my favorites...


Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 degrees."

TWA 2341: "Center, 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?"

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Culled from the web:



The following are accounts of actual exchanges between airline pilots and control towers around the world. Remember that the conversations are heard by all pilots on that frequency in that area.



Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"

Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"




"TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."

"Centre, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"

"Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"




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!"






O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound."


United 329: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this... I've got the little Fokker in sight."






A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?"


Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."






A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower Noted: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."






There's a story about the military pilot calling for a priority landing because his single-engine jet fighter was running "a little peaked."


Air Traffic Control told the fighter jock 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."






Taxiing down the tarmac, a DC-10 abruptly stopped, turned around and returned to the gate. After an hour-long wait, it finally took off.


A concerned passenger asked the flight attendant, "What, exactly, was the problem?"


"The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine," explained the flight attendant.


"It took us a while to find a new pilot."






A Pan Am 727 flight 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 in English."


Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany. Why must I speak English?"


Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody war."







Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency 124.7"


Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."


Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern 702?"


Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern... we've already notified our caterers."



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.


Some quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"


The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real zinger: "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one."






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 PA 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 quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?"

Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, -- And I didn't land."






While taxiing at London's Gatwick Airport, 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 C and D, but get it right!"


Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: "God! Now 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 communications frequency fell terribly silent after the verbal bashing of US Air 2771.


Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller in her current state of mind. Tension in every cockpit out around Gatwick was definitely running high.


Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone, asking: "Wasn't I married to you once?"

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I've got two amusing ones. Years ago I was a student pilot in Tulsa and was up training one day. The president (can't remember which one now) was flying into Tulsa Int'l aboard Air Force One while I was up flying around.


I had the radio on the approach frequency to listen in on the conversation. As pilots and ATC know, the procedure is for ATC to provide heading and altitude instructions and pilots to repeat them to insure proper communication. I waited as the Tulsa approach controller clearly provided all the necessary information to the pilot of Air Force One and waited for his response. After a delay of a few seconds the pilot, in his best most laid back voice returned, "OK". That was it. :grin:


Another time I was on a transcontinental flight where one of the audio channels allowed passengers to listen in on the cockpit/controller conversation. Around Denver I heard Denver center instruct a United flight to turn to such and such a heading for traffic. Getting no response the controller repeated (twice I believe) the same instructions. After finally acknowledging and executing the course change the controller came back on line and was clearly pissed at the pilot as he stated "United xxx quit flying around like you're the only airplane out there!". :grin:

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