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Airline/ATC communications
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Here are some conversations that airline passengers normally will
never hear. The following are accounts of actual exchanges
between airline pilots and control towers from around the world:


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,
"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

"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 in 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?"


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 not able, take the
Guadalupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and
return to the airport."


Unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: "I'm bored!"

Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify
yourself immediately!"

Unknown aircraft: "I said I was bored, not


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


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 vhere 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 to drop something off, but I didn't stop."


O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "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."


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

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!"