Here are some conversations that airline passengers normally don't hear.
It's nice to know our lives are in the hands of such professionals. The following are accounts of actual exchanges between airline pilots and control towers from around the world:
While taxiing at London Gatwick, the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727.
An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming: "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going? I told you to turn right on to Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between Cs and Ds, 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 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 once?"
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."
Unknown aircraft: "I'm f...ing bored!"
Air Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!"
Unknown aircraft: "I said I was 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 702?"
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 renowned as 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: "Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway."
Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."
The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."
Ground (with arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, haff you not been to Frankfurt before?"
Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944 but 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 the little Fokker in sight."
A Pan Am 727 flight engineer waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard the following: Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
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 war!"