“Nine Fosurs usidd swlm blwwy sodhy, gogl wotiyq,” the pilot said on the radio.
I was listening to this exchange as we descended our Boeing 757 over Captiva Island on a gorgeous Friday morning. Absolutely beautiful day. Clear. Warm. Scattered puffy clouds. There were a dozen boats powering around the bay between Fort Meyers proper and the barrier islands.
The radios were relatively quiet too. As far as I could tell, it was just us and Cessna Nine Four Uniform in the area. On days like this, flying does not suck.
“Cessna Nine Four Uniform, say again.”
“Cessna Nine Four Uniform, requesswoeh dooe ytiwe wosls Runway 6.” The pilot was talking at light speed. So fast, I couldn’t understand him and neither could the approach controller.
“Airliner 2378, turn left, heading one four zero. Descend and maintain 3000,” said Fort Meyers Approach to us.
I replied, slowly and evenly, “Airliner 2378. Left heading one; four; zero. Descend and maintain 3000.” Maybe the other pilot would hear my transmission and get a clue. Not that I’m G-d’s gift to aviation, but it might help another pilot to set a good example.
“Cessna Nine Four Uniform,” Fort Meyers approach said again, “Understand you want another approach to Page?”
“Cessna fksjjf djfoe soguy, ILS ajfdj to Page. Then sljfslfdj boa eoe Sarasota.”
“C’mon guy,” I thought. It’s just you, me and the approach controller. There’s no rush. Get a clue and slow your transmissions down! He can’t understand you when you speed talk. I’m surprised you can understand yourself because your words are so slurred and run together.
The Whole Point
Here’s my point. The next time you fly, listen to what others are doing on the aircraft radio. Listen for what works and what does not work. Notice that the pilots who speak slowly and evenly get understood every time. Watch how people who speed-talk on the radios often have to repeat their transmissions to be understood.
This goes for air traffic controllers too. Some controllers speed-talk out of habit. There could be two aircraft in the airspace, and the controller will still fire off instructions like it’s a race.
Speed talking isn’t the only problem. There are hundreds of others. For example, some pilots “Um” and “Aaaah” so much, you want to reach into your headset with your hand and slap them upside the head. “Stop that!”
Listen for the polished and professional too. Try to apply all the good stuff you hear on the radios to your own transmissions. In short, listen and learn.
All aircraft callsigns in this story are fictitious. The story, unfortunately, is true.