Pilots have coded phrases they use to communicate delays, turbulence, and even warnings about annoying passengers.
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The pilot alphabet
The first secret of pilot language is the pilot alphabet. “To avoid confusion with similar sounding consonants, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has a standard phonetic alphabet for aviation use:
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.
Numbers get special treatment too. Pilots pronounce most numbers normally with these exceptions: Zero (0) is always “zero,” not “oh.” Three becomes “tree,” five becomes “fife,” and nine becomes “niner.”
Did you know that doctors and nurses also have their own secret language?
Hockey fans may picture one flight attendant going into the penalty box for two-minute crosschecking minor but on a plane, crosscheck is a term meaning that one crew member has verified the task of another. Flight attendants crosscheck each other’s stations to make sure the plane’s doors are armed or disarmed before takeoff and after landing.
When the pilot announces that she’s “just finishing up some last minute paperwork,” it means that everything is ready to go, but she needs to make adjustments to the weight-and-balance record, or make a slight revision to the flight plan before takeoff.