I’ve written before about the consequences of joking on the aviation radio band. It never occurred to me to address the use of foul language on frequency, until today.

Recently, a comment arrived at this website that needed a reply. Although the comment was trenchant, the email address the commentator used included a foul-language username.

Foul language is not appropriate for this forum, particularly one that examines correct phraseology on the radio. I answered the question and told the commentator the whole transaction will be wiped from this website in 3 days. That should be long enough for my reply to reach him, but not so long as to permanently mar the website.

I found it odd that this individual was highly observant about radio etiquette but blind to the implications of offensive language used in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’ve heard a lot of irrelevant, snarky transmissions on the radio, but I don’t recall ever hearing foul language. That said, I’ve read about incidents of cursing on the radio lately. I suppose it needs addressing.

Don’t do it.

Do I need to say why? Apparently I do because some pilots are missing the obvious. Communication on aviation frequencies is all about supporting safe flight. Cursing makes no contribution to aviation safety. I could even argue cursing runs counter to safety because it is distracting. It’s distracting to pilots trying to focus on flying and navigating. It’s distracting to air traffic controllers trying to focus on traffic separation and sequencing.

That’s the high-level view of the argument. Here’s the low-level view. If you value your FCC Radio Station Permit, which is a required part of your pilot credentials, don’t curse on the aviation radio band. If you value your pilot’s license, also a vital component, don’t curse on the aviation radio band. Cursing on frequency could result in suspension or loss of both certificates.

Is that enough? Good. Let’s get back to discussing proper radio phraseology.




As of October 31, 2019, I have permanently deleted the Aircraft Radio Simulator from its home at ATCinsider.com. The program developed so many glitches, it became non-functional. Given that the simulator was extremely limited in scope, I decided to delete it and start a new simulator from scratch. More on that in a moment.

Although the simulator was the primary feature at ATCinsider.com, that website remains for those pilots who wish to use a course called Clearance Magic.

Clearance Magic is a pay-to-use course designed for IFR pilots. The program lets pilots practice copying IFR clearances from ATC. At present, this is the only fully functional program at ATCinsider.com. IFR pilots can navigate to the course beginning at the introductory page at IFRclearance.com.

In the near future, I will transfer Clearance Magic to another website, making ATCinsider.com obsolete. Therefore I’m recommending, unless you are an IFR pilot or a pilot working on an instrument rating, that you ignore all references to ATCinsider.com in the contents of this website.

I am working on a new simulator but the progress on it has been extremely slow. I wish I could provide you with an update on when a test version of the new simulator will be available, but I can’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel. Rest assured, any updates on the new simulator will be immediately posted at this website.

In summary, the Aircraft Radio Simulator is no more. I am working on a new version with no estimated time in service. ATCinsider.com is relevant only to IFR pilots wishing to use Clearance Magic. I apologize to you if you were excited about practicing your VFR radio work using the simulator. I know this is disappointing news. In the meantime, my books are a good resource. I’ll continue to work hard in the background to give you quality tools for improving your radio skills.

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Listen for Your Call Sign

August 29, 2017

“Cessna 9130 Delta, Oakland Center, radio check,” says the controller. “Cessna 9130 Delta, loud and clear,” the pilot answers. “Cessna 9130,” says the controller, “that was my third attempt to call you. If you want to continue with flight following, you’re going to have to listen for your call sign.” Why didn’t the pilot answer […]

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Telling ATC Traffic Identified on ADS-B

January 26, 2017

Updated 27 January 2017. Yesterday, I published an article about what to say to ATC when you have identified traffic on your onboard ADS-B screen. Based on feedback from several air traffic controllers, who all responded similarly, I’m going to change my recommendation. Previously, I said when ATC points out traffic and you notice the […]

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Using ATC to Check the Status of a MOA

January 4, 2017

Is it safe to fly through a Military Operations Area (MOA)? It depends. A pilot named Drew recently asked me if I had any advice about how to contact ATC to check the status of a MOA. Here’s what I told him. Show Resources Aeronautical Information Manual 3−4−5. Military Operations Areas c. Pilots operating under […]

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ATC Flight Following Animation

December 11, 2016

We’ve talked many times about techniques for picking up VFR flight following with ATC. Let’s go one step further and look at the process in a real time animation. Before you click the link at the bottom of this article to see the animation, a few notes. The animation used in this lesson is part […]

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ATC Language Program for Non-English Speakers

October 29, 2016

In development. A training program that teaches student pilots how to speak the English words used by ATC.* This will be a language program with a very narrow scope. It is intended for non-English speaking people. It is not a how-to-talk-to-ATC course for native English speakers. To avoid the need to interpret the program’s instructions […]

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Taxi Clearance Anxiety

September 30, 2016

If you have ever felt butterflies in your stomach when faced with contacting Ground Control for taxi clearance, you have experienced something I call Taxi Clearance Anxiety. It’s a made-up term but the phenomenon has real consequences. Some pilots go out of their way to avoid controlled airports with complicated taxiway layouts. Even high-time pro […]

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The Difference Between ATC Clearances and Advisories

September 15, 2016

The following transmission from a tower controller has a clearance and an advisory. Can you tell which is which? ATC says, “Skyhawk 9130 Delta, Runway 16, line up and wait. Traffic will be crossing downfield.” When the controller said, “Runway 16, line up and wait,” he was directing Skyhawk 9130 Delta to do something. When […]

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Great Article on Radio Errors

September 8, 2016

Here’s a worthwhile read about radio errors, by John Zimmerman, at studentpilotnews.com. The issues raised in this article are just as prevalent today as they were when this article was written in 2012. Enjoy, or read it and weep, depending on your perspective. http://studentpilotnews.com/2012/05/09/the-7-deadly-sins-of-radio-communications/

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