Overheard ATC Conversations
The following are accounts of actual exchanges between pilots and
ATC from around the world:
While taxiing at LaGuardia the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft.
Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727.
The irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming:
"US Air 2771, where 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's and D's, 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
The controller working a busy pattern told the 727 on downwind to make a
three-sixty--do a complete circle, a move normally used to provide spacing
The pilot of the 727 complained, "Don't you know it costs us two thousand
dollars to make even a one-eighty in this airplane?"
Without missing a beat the controller replied, "Roger, give me four thousand
A DC-10 had an exceedingly long rollout 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 Guadalupe exit off Highway 101 and make a right
at the light to return to the airport."
It was a really nice day, right about dusk, and a Piper Malibu was being
vectored into a long line of airliners in order to land at Kansas City.
KC Approach: "Malibu three-two Charlie, you're following a 727, one o'clock
and three miles."
Three-two Charlie: "We've got him. We'll follow him."
KC Approach: "Delta 105, your traffic to follow is a Malibu, eleven o'clock
and three miles. Do you have that traffic?"
Delta 105 (in a thick southern drawl, after a long pause):
"Well...I've got something down there. Can't quite tell if it's a Malibu or a
Unknown aircraft: "I'm f...ing bored!"
Air Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself
Unknown aircraft: "I said I wa! s f...ing bored, not f...ing stupid!"
Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on 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, contact Departure on 124.7.
Did you copy that report from Eastern?"
Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we
copied Eastern and we've already notified our caterers."
The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are 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: "Top of the morning, Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of the
Ground: "Guten Morgen. You vill taxi to your gate."
The big British Airways 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
Speedbird 206: "Stand by a moment, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location
Ground (with arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, haff you never flown to
Speedbird 206 (coolly): Yes, I have, actually, in 1944. In another type of
Boeing, but just to drop something off. I didn't stop."
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 that Fokker
A Pan Am 727 flight engineer waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard
the following: Lufthansa (in German): Ground, what is our start clearance
Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak English."
Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany.
Why must I speak English?"
Unknown voice (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody
Lots of commercial aircraft are stacked up waiting for approach to O'Hare
Int'l, ATC has inflicted numerous delays, and some planes are already 1-2
hours late. The WX is good, it's just that there is a traffic bottleneck
somewhere. Pilots, passengers, crew are all getting quite frustrated and
ATC: "All aircraft holding, expect 20 minutes additional delay."
Unknown A/C: "Ahhh . . . bullsh*t!"
ATC: "Aircraft making last transmission, identify yourself."
ATC: "Aircraft making last transmission, identify yourself immediately!"
ATC: "Aircraft using 'bullshit' in last transmission, identify
American 411, was that you?"
American 411: "Approach, American 411: negative on the 'bullshit,' sir."
NW 202: "Approach, NW 202: negative on the 'bullshit.'"
Delta 55: "Approach, Delta 55: negative on the 'bullshit.'"
NW 33: "Approach, NW 33: we have a negative on that 'bullshit.'"
. . . and so on, right through the entire pattern.
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