Friday, May 15, 2015

ATC Humour

I may have spent too much time reading silly threads on the Professional Pilots Rumour Network (PPRuNe). Specifically, there’s a great thread of ATC Humour with a great mix of classic jokes and personal stories. It’s eighty pages long! However, I read the whole thing so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome!

My sense of humour is sometimes very questionable. Also, some of these are very English, and I’ll leave it to the readers to explain those in the comments.

With that proviso, I bring you the best of PPRuNe ATC humour (some edits included to protect the innocent)!

Pilot: I think I suffered a birdstrike. Did you see where it hit?

Controller: Just below the beak but I think it’s all right.

Private Pilot: I need a little help as I am not sure of my position
ATC: Roger. Set 1234 on your transponder
Private Pilot: OK

—long pause–

ATC: I don’t see you in any of my sectors. Where was the last place you were sure of your position?

Private Pilot: Holding short runway 34

Confused British Airways pilot in Thailand: Bangbird, this is Speedcock….

ATC: Clipper 123, what’s the turbulence like at your level?
Clipper 123: Well …how shall I put it? The Captain’s just stuck his fork up his nose.
ATC: TWA 789, what’s the turbulence like at your level?
TWA 789: I don’t know, we haven’t eaten yet.

A cargo plane was flying the same route night after night and after while went in with approach of destination airport (around dusk) with the same joke.

Flight 123: Tower, guess who’s coming?

Each time the tower asked him to identify himself clearly on the frequency instead of joking, never succeeded…until that day in winter:

Flight 123: Tower, guess who’s coming?
Tower controller: (turning off the runway lights) Flight 123, guess where we are now…

From that day, the story says that this cargo pilot always identified when contacting the tower.

A University Air Squadron Bulldog holding for the grass runway:

Charlie 01: Tower, Charlie 01, we have a large flock of plovers by the threshold
Tower: Charlie 01, say again?
Charlie 01: We have a large flock of plovers by the threshold
Tower: A large flock of what?
Charlie 01: *sigh* Birds.

Aeroflot routing to Ireland and then on to Cuba at time of tension…

ATCO: Aeroflot 123, do you carry transponder?
Aeroflot: Negative sir, we only carry agricultural equipment

In the days that the Red Devils used to parachute over Queens Parade and work TMA south for entry into controlled airspace, a Qantas jumbo on a Southhampton departure on a sunny day made an anxious report.

Qantas: Hey, London, there’s an aircraft on our left hand side and there’s people falling out of it.
Controller: Is it a red islander?
Qantas: Blimey, that’s good radar!

There are two approaches into airfields near Boston; here are the waypoints:


Trainee controller: Cessna 172 calling, say again your callsign and type of aircraft.

Approx 4:00 AM one morning

India X-ray Charlie India X-ray Charlie request.
Brisbane: Go ahead.
India X-ray Charlie Roger, I seem to have left my flight plan in the fax machine at home. Don’t suppose you could give me my flight details.

(After a minute’s pause)

Brisbane: (laughing) India X-ray Charlie we can do that for you. You have departed Weipa.

(Another pause )

India X-ray Charlie: Ahh…roger, I kinda know that much.
Brisbane: (still laughing) You are off to Cairns.

(Another pause)

India X-ray Charlie: You guys are going to drag this out for a while just to embarrass me, aren’t you.

This went on for a while, eventually the rest of the details were also given.

Two J41 aircraft inbound to the field, the first aircraft established inbound on the ILS, second aircraft reports visual with the field requesting a visual approach.

ATC: Are you visual with the company Jetstream in your 1 o’clock, range 6 miles?
J41: Negative. Are you sure you mean in my 1 o’clock?
ATC: Try looking to the right of your 12 o’clock.
J41: Visual.

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 the little Fokker in sight.

Detroit Radio: Number aboard?
N1234: Two
Detroit Radio: Color?
N1234: Uh…white males.

The other day at Hamilton, New Zealand (NZHN 122.9MHz) there was a female trainee controller on the frequency (every now and then you could hear her OJTI (instructor) talking in the background).

The controller had a C206 transitting the Control Zone to the south (ZK-EJE) and a 152 (ZK-EJZ – similar callsign) taxiing on the ground. Needing to check the position of the C206 (ZK-EJE) before clearing a southbound Saab 340 for takeoff the following was heard:

Trainee ATCO: Echo Juliet Zulu, report level and position
ZK-EJZ (a particularly quick thinking instructor): 172feet (aerodrome elevation) at Holding Point Charlie
Trainee ATCO: Uh…Roger? [sounds of raucous laughter from the instructor in the background]

For the next few minutes every time the trainee spoke you could hear the instructor wetting himself in the background.

London Air Traffic Control Centre controller was asked some time before to accept a pair of Blackburn Buccaneers.

Civilian LATCC controller: Where are my Buccaneers?
LATCC Military controller: Under your Buccan headset!

A couple of years ago, a A300 ST Beluga checking in :

Beluga: Hello Bordeaux, this is Super Transporter F-AD, with you FL330.
Bordeaux: Super Transporter AD, bonjour. This is Super Controller speaking!

Flight SWR 101 was normally a B747 inbound to Zurich from JFK. ACC called the approach controller and told them that flight SWR 101 was coming in with only 3 engines today. In fact, it was an MD-11 that day, a three-engine wide-body jet.

The Approach Controller immediately notified the fire brigade and everything was prepared for a one engine out landing with a 747. The pilots didn’t notice when the approach controller told them that the fire brigade was ready, and the fire brigade was pretty upset when they saw an MD-11 on final approach.

A DC-10 had an exceedingly long roll out 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, make a right at the lights and return to the airport.

On the airline frequency:

Flight crew: None of our toilets are working. Can we have permission to give the passengers complimentary drinks?

A Dan Air flight is running late into Aberdeen and he eventually changes from Scottish to Aberdeen Approach.

A/C: Aberdeen, good day. It’s the f*****g Dan Air 123.

An uncomfortable pause lasts for a few moments and the controller eventually responds as he would normally would. However despite the controller using the correct call-sign the pilot operating the R/T still persisted in saying ‘F*****g Dan Air 123′.

The flight was handed over to the tower frequency and the pilot continued to use this ‘modified’ callsign. The tower controller was just as surprised as their colleague was on approach but nevertheless the pilot continued to use the modified callsign right until the aircraft taxied onto stand.

When the aircraft pulled onto stand the pilot called tower and suggested that they should listen to the current ATIS.

The ATIS was recorded as normal however in the background you could hear a certain Approach controller shout out ‘Where is that F******g Dan Air’.

Cockpit: The first officer says he’s got the runway in sight.
ATC: Roger, the first officer’s cleared for a visual approach runway 27…You continue on that 180 heading and descend to three thousand.

Your story is almost true but here is the official version. I know as I was that controller. The Blackbird was competing in a race from overhead New York to overhead London and I was briefed to ‘clock’ it in as it passed overhead London. (I was a military ATCO covering the London overhead at the time – 1972) The Blackbird was out of primary radar cover so I was tracking it on SSR. As it passed over London heading East I gave it a left turn for Mildenhall and then watched aghast as it commenced it’s very very wide turn and disappeared towards Holland descending through a very high Mode C readout. Being a smart ATCO I instructed the pilot to ‘strangle his parrot’ and report when steady heading 270. When he did I asked him to report his altitude and then told him to continue. After a bit of dead reckoning I instructed him to squawk my code and picked him up over the North Sea about 30 miles east of Gt Yarmouth at about FL 330 descending !! God knows how far he had penetrated German airspace but with no SSR and probably above their primary cover maybe I had got away with it. There is one other ATCO who knows the story but you won’t tell will you Pete ?

Radar controller in a sticky situation: two a/c, parallel vectored but on the wrong sides. No chance of a vertical solution or a ‘make a 360′ solution due to traffic behind.

ATC: a/c 1, do you see the a/c on your right?
a/c1: Affirm
ATC: a/c 2, do you see the a/c on your left?
a/c2: Affirm
ATC: You guys able to maintain VFR for the next 1 min?
a/c1: Affirm
a/c2: Affirm
ATC: OK, now swap!

The amazing thing was that they actually did!

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 702?

Continental 635: Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we copied Eastern and we’ve already notified our caterers…

Aircraft taxying to terminal after landing 04 used to pass quite close to the tower. One old time pilot whose voice we all knew used to flip us the finger as he said g’day on his way past (I think it might have actually been two fingers in those days). Of course we all knew the routine and gave a mass showing of fingers thrusting skyward.

It was only later we found that he had just made a PA announcement: “If those passengers on the left hand side of the aircraft look out the window now, they’ll see the friendly boys in the tower hard at work…”

Back in the early 1960s Gloster Gladiator G-AMRK was going from A to B when the engine quit (I think it was somewhere near Bedford). He put out a Mayday and asked to be pointed at the nearest airfield.

ATC: What type of aircraft are you?
Pilot: Gloster Gladiator.
ATC: This is really not the time to be funny.
Pilot: If you were stuck up here in the last flyable Gloster Gladiator in the world without an engine I doubt you would find it at all funny!

They got him down.

ATC: Aeroflot XXX proceed direct VUT.

Aeroflot: Ummm… say again?

ATC: Aeroflot, present position direct Victor Uniform Tango.

Aeroflot: Roger, proceeding direct WHISKY UNIFORM TANGO.

ATC: NEGATIVE! It’s VODKA Uniform Tango!

An AA 757 is coming out of the AA terminal cul-de-sac at high speed, checking in on the TWR frequency. Controller asks: “Why the hurry?” and the reply, although a bit garbled, sounds exactly like “I have a dangerous cargo”.

“Okay,” thinks our hero, “better give this guy priority in the departure sequence.” This is done and furthermore a message about this particular flight having a dangerous cargo is passed along down the line thru the ATC system.

The flight reaches O’Hare airport in record time.

Tower: AAxxx, would you need any special assistance when parking?
American Airlines pilot: Errr, no. Why d’ya ask? (sounding quite baffled)
Tower: Well, understand that you told JFK TWR that you had a dangerous cargo…
American Airlines pilot: Nonono! I said I have a date in Chicago!

Experienced some months ago while approaching to land a helicopter at a busy English airfield…

TOWER: PA28 G-XXXX cleared to land 04 Hard.
G-XXXX: Cleared to land 04 Hard G-XXXX.
TOWER: Helicopter G-YYYY cleared to land 04 Grass and watch for inbound PA28 on finals.
ME: Clear land 04 Grass – looking.
TOWER: He’s behind you.
SOME WAG ON FREQUENCY: Oh no he’s not…

I was laughing so hard I couldn’t hover.

Early morning at Frankfurt:

Speedbird 123: Request taxi.
Tower: Negative Speedbird 123, hold position.
Lufthansa 456: Request taxi.
Tower: Clear taxi, Lufthansa 456.
Speedbird 123: Request taxi.
Tower: Negative 123, hold position.
Lufthansa 789: Request taxi.
Tower: Clear taxi, Lufthansa 789
Speedbird 123: Why are we still holding?
Lufthansa 789: German pilots get up early and put their towels on the end of the runway.

Air Force One (B707/C-137) was visiting UK back in the 1960s. Crusty old Colonel captain decides to visit a few RAF airfields to do some crew training. These were the days before secondary radar.

Air Force One: Air Force One checking in and requesting a precision approach radar.
RAF: Roger Air Force One, can I have your present position, heading and height?
Air Force One: Look buddy, you’ve got the goddamn radar, you find us!

After a couple of identification turns Air Force One is now on dog leg to finals.

RAF: Air Force One you are now on dog leg to finals, just confirm your aircraft is multi-channel VHF equipped?
Air Force One: Affirmative
RAF:Right then old boy, you find the Final Controller!

Two jets were leaving on the same heading: BE200 at FL 70 and A340 at FL 80 about 4 miles behind but going much faster. As the Airbus caught up to the King Air and the returns on the radar merged, a meek little voice was heard.

“It’s gone awful dark…….”

A PAN AM 747 suffers an engine failure on rotation at LHR:

PILOT: Err ah Clipper 123, we are going to continue straight ahead runway heading and dump some gas.
CONTROLLER: Are you aware, sir, that your current heading takes you over Windsor Castle where her Majesty is currently in residence?
PILOT: (quick as a flash) Ask her majesty, does she just want the gas or the airplane and the gas?

A colleague heard the following recently on the way into Schiphol.

AMS Controller: Continental give me a good rate please through FL100?
Continental: Well sir, we are doing 2000 feet per minute.
AMS Controller: Could you make it 3000 feet per minute?
Continental : No sir.
AMS Controller: Oh, do you not have a speedbrake?
Continental: Yes sir, I do, but that is for MY mistakes, not for yours!

RADAR: November 12345, VFR traffic on your 12 o’clock, range two miles.
A/C: No, the traffic is actually a flock of Canada Geese!
RADAR: Well, the geese are squawking 1200.

A Tucano is a two-seater turboprop trainer. On a London north bank sector many moons ago, one of the first Tucanos was trundling around on airways when the pilot advised that an immediate diversion was required because of engine trouble.

Trainee controller not quite conversant with aircraft type: State persons on board and which engine is giving trouble.

Arguably one of the greatest responses came back:

“Me and it.”

Know any more? Leave ‘em in the comments!

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