8 ways to annoy your Air Traffic Controller


Most pilots learn to fly simply to annoy Air Traffic Controllers. We asked our favourite ATCO, Dorian Crook, for the top 8 ways to keep these coffee-sucking control freaks furious. 
1. Calling yourself  “THE Bluebird 342”. No, you’re just “Bluebird 342”.  You’re not The Dude. It makes you sound like a Hospital Radio DJ. So expect to be treated like one.
2. Reporting “Runway Vacated” when you aren’t. There are very few airports or situations where you’re required to report this. We have large windows in our Towers (for now)  and, in a lot of cases,-Surface Movement Radar. So don’t do it- and if you do, it doesn’t count if just the pilot’s feet are over the line: we need the whole aircraft clear of the runway. Especially the tail. That can cause a lot of damage and paperwork.
3. Giving your Life Story over the Radio. This is more common among Private Pilots, who are still excited about using the radio, rather than seeing it as a necessary evil, like the Big Boys do. Most common in the club rental aircraft, such as Cessna 172 /PA28. Less common amongst the exotica and vintage boys- presumably because all THEIR attention is kept on keeping the damn thing in the air/not shaking itself to pieces. There are some things you should include (see CAP413) but don’t go on like Ken Dodd at the Liverpool Empire. This is often delivered in a Nasal Voice, for which you will lose extra points.

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4. Pressing the Cabin Announcement PA button instead of the RT Transmit. If you make your Cabin Announcement to the Tower and all the others listening to it, three things will happen:
1. You’ll have to do it again with the right button.
2. You’ll look a fool
3. You’ll have blocked the Tower frequency for 40-60 seconds. Bad news for the aircraft at half-mile Final waiting for his landing clearance.
Lose extra points (and possibly any chance of starting at all) by blaming ATC for a delay which was actually caused by a flat tyre on the catering truck.
5.Having a Chat with other Pilot’s who you recognise.Hey Bruno, let’s have a beer next time we’re in Munich” is not a phrase you’ll find in the Manual. And you’re never going to have that beer, anyway. Bruno hates you.
6. Saying “Roger That”. No. It’s “Roger”. Join the Hospital Radio point 1 and go to Remote Parking.
7. Saying “seen on the Metal Detector” as a response to Traffic Information. Go and join your friends from 1) and 6).
8. Ask for opposite-direction Runway for ” performance reasons” when it’s obviously too busy. Everyone else can do it -and so can you. Either throw off the Fatties, or sharpen your Performance Pencil a bit more.



“Sometimes the Controller will say “Standby”. This means he is busy with other tasks in the Tower.

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Dorian Crook is a pilot, air traffic controller & stand-up comedian. His Maule has bigger wheels than your Cessna.

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