Who says pilots and controllers have no sense
Following are accounts of actual exchanges between airline and control towers
from around the world:
Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on
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 the report from Eastern?"
Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger;
and yes, we copied Eastern and we've already notified our caterers."
During taxi, the crew of a US Air departure flight to Ft.
Lauderdale, made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727. The
irritated ground controller (a female) lashed out at the US Air crew
"US Air 2771, where are you going? I told you to turn right on
"Charlie" taxi way; you turned right on "Delta." Stop right there. I know
it's difficult to tell the difference between C's and D's but get it
Continuing her lashing 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 until I tell you to.
You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about a half
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??"
The humbled crew responded: "Yes Ma'am".
Naturally, the "ground control" frequency went terribly silent
after the verbal bashing of US Air Flight 2771. No one wanted to engage
the irate ground controller in her current state.
Tension in every cockpit at LGA was running high. Shortly after
the controller finished her admonishment of the U.S. Air crew, an
unknown male pilot broke the silence and asked, "Wasn't I married to
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 between aircraft).
The pilot of the 727 complained, "Do you know it
costs us two thousand dollars to make a three-sixty in this airplane?
Without missing a beat the controller replied,
"Roger, give me four thousand dollars worth!"
A DC-10 had an exceedingly long roll out after landing with his
approach speed just a little too high.
San Jose Tower: "American 751 heavy, turn right at the end, if
not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off of Highway 101 and make
a right at the light to return to the airport.
O'Hare Approach Control: "United 329 Heavy, your traffic is a
Fokker 100, one o'clock, 3 miles, eastbound."
United 329: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this... I've
got that Fokker in sight."
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")
Speed bird 206: "Top of the morning Frankfurt, Speed bird 206
clear of the active runway."
Ground: "Guten morgen! You will taxi to your gate!"
The big British Airways 747 pulled onto the main taxi way and
slowed to a stop.
Ground: "Speed bird, do you not know what
you are going?"
Speed bird 206: "Stand by a moment ground, I'm looking up our
gate location now."
Ground: (with some arrogant impatience) "Speed bird 206, half
you never flown to Frankfurt before?!?"
Speed bird 206 (coolly): "Yes, I have, in 1944. In another type
of Boeing. I didn't stop."
As a junior crew member Pan Am 727 Flight Engineer, I was
listening to the radio waiting for start clearance out of Munich, Germany.
This was the conversation I overheard (I don't recall call signs any
Lufthansa: (In German) "Ground, what is our start clearance
Ground: (in English) "If you want an answer you must speak
Luft: (In English) "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in
Why must I speak English?"
Beautiful English Accent: (before ground could answer) "Because
you lost the bloody war!"
One of the funniest exchanges occurred around 15 years ago.
A Japanese plane was landing at San Francisco but, for some
reason managed to land in the water. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
The black boxes were recovered, and the following was recorded
to be best of my recollection.
Control Tower: "You appear to be coming in too low."
Control Tower: "You appear to be coming in too low. Please
increase you altitude."
Control Tower: "You are coming in too low."
Airplane: "ads;lkfjadsflkjasdf;lkjadsfklj" is said in Japanese.
Airplane lands short of the runway and in the water at the
beginning of the runway.
The FAA obtained the services of one fluent in Japanese and
Translation of Japanese Phrase, "Those stupid Americans don't
think we know how to land this airplane."