Top 10 Annoying Pilotisms Said on the Radio

We can all agree there are many “pilot personalities” out there. I spend the majority of my day listening to all sorts of stuff said over the radios (121.5) and while most of it I just tune out, there are a few things that just make me cringe.

While most of this is harmless, especially if you are cruising into Joe Schmoes Airport in Nowheresville, USA; It annoys me (and probably ATC much worse) when New York Center is overloaded and understaffed during rush hour traffic while some pilot is making their transmission longer with useless words and phrases.

10.) “With You”.

No. You are not with him/her.

EXAMPLE: “New York Approach, this is N123AB with you at four thousand feet with information Mike.”

TRY INSTEAD: “New York Center, N123AB four thousand, Mike.”

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9.) “Checking in”.

Yeah, we know, that’s why you keyed the mic in the first place.

EXAMPLE: “Jacksonville Center, N123AB just checking in with yah here at twenty three thousand feet.

TRY INSTEAD: “Jacksonville Center, N123AB, FL230.”

8.) Reading back every single syllable a controller says.

This is a personal pet peeve that will drive me bonkers. I usually don’t let it get to me when I hear a Sunday Cessna driver do it, but its inexcusable in La Guardia during cluster f*** hours (majority of the time).

EXAMPLE:

LGA Approach: “N123AB, traffic twelve o’clock, five miles, altitude  3,500. Left turn heading three six zero, descend and maintain 2,000 feet. La Guardia one o’clock and 12 miles. Advise when traffic or airport in sight.”

Annoying Pilot: “La Guardia Approach, N123AB, traffic at twelve o’clock and five miles isn’t in sight. We’ll make the left turn heading three six zero and descend and maintain 2,000. We do have La Guardia in sight.”

TRY INSTEAD:

Professional Pilot: “N123AB negative contact, Heading tree six zero, descend two thousand, Airport in sight.”

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7.) Using the word FOR instead of Climbing/Descending

It’s confusing. Stop it.

EXAMPLE: “N123AB leaving four thousand four hundred FOR fourteen thousand.

Yes that is an egregious example, but it can lead to errors

TRY INSTEAD: “N123AB four thousand climbing fourteen thousand.”

6.) Calling Atlanta Center “Hot-Lanta”.

It’s not new. It’s not Clever. It’s obnoxious.

5.) Blocking transmissions to say “Blocked”

I get it, you want to help. But a lot of the times it is very obvious to ATC it got blocked. But when you block ATC again to say BLOCKED, it can be maddening during peak traffic hours. Give ATC enough time to get on the radio and try again, because inevitably he will need the read back anyway.

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4.) Not listening to the frequency before you key the mic.

This is how number 5 happens. Doing this makes you an asshole. You’ve crossed the threshold of annoying into asshole land. Most common offenses happen on ramp frequencies when calling for push back and calling ground for taxi. I understand you want to get into the lineup, but when you are stepping on someone you are just slowing it down for everyone.

*DISCLAIMER* Sometimes you just have to force yourself into the conversation when you are getting ignored and/or stepped all over by other rude pilots. This is an intentional power move and is sometimes necessary.

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3.) Using the “Fish Finder” (A.K.A. TCAS, Traffic Collision Avoidance System) to respond to traffic alerts from ATC.

I face palm every time I hear this. It’s a waste of words and a waste of time. TCAS is not an appropriate means for avoiding traffic unless it is giving you a TRAFFIC RESOLUTION (e.g. CLIMB, CLIMB NOW! CLIMB, CLIMB NOW!)

Unless you can VISUALLY see the traffic out the window or your airplane is actively telling you how to avoid imminent death, it doesn’t matter what your fish finder says. And it doesn’t matter to ATC at all and you are just wasting everyone’s time and you should feel badly about your life choices.

EXAMPLE:

ATC: “N123AB immediate left turn heading one eight zero. Traffic twelve o’clock, 2 miles, opposite direction, same altitude.”

N123AB: “Roger we got ’em on the “fish finder.”

TRY INSTEAD: “Left one eight zero, N123AB.”

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2.) Accidentally Transmitting on Guard 121.5

Accidents happen. Everyone has done it. It’s still annoying. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve accidently transmitted on guard. I’ve also accidently transmitted over the cabin PA system as well. It happens. Still annoying. It is almost instinctual for my hand to grasp the radio selector knob before every transmission now. At a minimum at least glancing at it. Will myself and every pilot do it again at some point? Yes. It will still be annoying. Your twenty minute goodbye speech to the passengers that you apparently fell in love with during your long flight from Charlotte to Fayetteville NC belongs in the cabin, where it can annoy your passengers and flight attendants, not every airplane in a 150nm radius.

1.) SAYING ANYTHING ON GUARD 121.5 AT ALL

Just. Shut. Up. You guard monkeys are a disease. Saying “guard” like an inbred heathen because of number 2 on this list makes you king of the assholes. You are the pilot no one likes to fly with. Your own self righteous need for attention is sickening. Whether you are a captain or first officer, your co-pilot should be ashamed for not reporting you to the chief pilot for therapy.

This goes for all the people who do anything on guard not flying related. Saying “guard”, meowing, playing music, mocking inadvertent guard uses, chastising Delta. All of it. Just go away. All of you.

But seriously, stop it.

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38 Comments

  1. Ummm….WOW…
    You need to get over yourself and find a hobby.
    No, seriously!
    I do this professionally as well, and you are a BIG part of the problem.
    Either find a way to un-eff yourself or find a new profession.
    We need new young pilots. They’re going to make mistakes. So did YOU!
    None of these are a problem except for crusty old bastards that should have retired 10 years ago.
    Is that you?

    Like

    1. Holy smokes, we hit a nerve with yah didn’t we? I wasn’t aware I was the problem with all of my radio professionalism and skills. I think we need less people in the industry who read an obviously satirical internet top ten list and get butt hurt. But here at Aero Daily, we value any and all input! Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  2. Radio virus in Phoenix:

    Busy Tower: N45 Ident.

    Verbose Blowhard: Ahhh ok tower, here comes the flash, at this time 4500ft just err somewhereville N12345.

    Mindful pro: Ident N45.

    Like

  3. Center controller currently for over 33 years. None of this bothers me except for playing on the guard freq. which comes over the speaker above the scope. I like when A/C say “blocked” because I have no idea I was blocked on that transmission.

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    1. The blocked does help when you can obviously tell the controller had no idea (e.g. when the controller overlaps past the blocker). I was more specifically targeting the times where it was obviously blocked and then 17 people step all over each other to say blocked.

      In other news, its nice to know a controller is out there not being annoyed. What airspace do you work?

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  4. Disagree with a couple of these (and yes I am a professional pilot with flight time from here to the Arabian Gulf.)

    10 and 9 – the number of times I have called ATC after a hand off and had the controller ask why I was calling is amazing. To include a hand off from center to a not so busy approach frequency where I had to practically scream at the controller to respond to me because I was at my clearance limit and was about to enter holding. When he finally answered he told me to continue as files. Which was hilarious as I was where I was filed to go and needed an approach. There is nothing wrong with saying with saying with you or checking in in my opinion. It usually happens going from center to center but I have seen it happen going between two controllers in the same approach control.

    7 is actually how the US Navy teaches it. Btw if you really want to get technical it would be four thousand for one four thousand. And I find nothing confusing about that. I would find “leaving 1.4 for one four thousand” equally non-confusing. I’ve heard a lot of really bad GA radios, and I fly and train in the busiest airspace in the world where there are literally hundreds of training operations every hour, and that wouldn’t sounds bad on the radio.

    I will admit I’ve never heard fish finder or hotlanta on the radio. But those would be annoying as hell.

    What is annoying to me? Joe bob and Billy Joe having a conversation on CTAF while the rest of us are trying to work: hey you two, try 123.45, or 122.75 which is what the FAR AIM says to use.

    As for guard monkies: around these parts it tends to be Air Force spec ops guys who think guard is their personal tac frequency as if it can’t be heard for hundreds of miles. But I think my all time favorite was two guys in Hampton Roads saying guard like a pirate over and over for an hour (no exaggeration). When I hear people talk on guard for anything other than an urgent situation (which happens at least once a day) I want to beat them with a baseball bat.

    Oh yeah – and right behind them are people who lack comm brevity. For the example in 8 I would be plenty happy with this response: “Negative contact, 3-6-0, 2 thousand, airport in sight.”

    Like

    1. Excellent input. I appreciate the lengthy reply. I can’t account for all situations when making a list of annoying radioisms. 10/9 was a softball for times when the frequency is slammed. After discussions with other professional pilots over the years, I have determined it’s annoying. More specifically it’s annoying to me. Just like everything else on this list.

      As for 7, you are correct and I will modify this list to reflect that it should say one-four thousand. However, AIM 5-3-1 Paragraph 2. (a) states “Climbing to” or “Descending to” is the correct phraseology.

      Like

  5. I flew for 37 yrs and if we had no humanizing chatter or occasional humor, just robotic answers to ATC the already demanding pilots life would have been Hell. I bet you correct people’s spelling in your free time for fun!

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    1. You missed the entire point of this. I have a lot of fun on the radio. I just find it annoying into La Guardia or Reagan National (or any understaffed shit-show airspace) during peak hours. Or on Guard, during any hours. You misspelled years, by the way.

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  6. As a flight instructor I teach this but once turned loose many but not all try to sound cool they think and imitate the pros. ATC needs to promote more of the minimalist approach to communications. I personally practice what I preach when flying and generally get excellent treatment by ATC.

    Like

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