The Four W’s of Aviation Radio Communications

What is the toughest part about pilot instruction? Just about anyone will say, “Speaking on the radio.” Nevertheless, even inexperienced persons can seem very good on the radio if they utilize some very simple guidelines. I am going to initially go over these principles and then give some tips all pilots can use to make improvements to their radio skills.

The Four W’s of Radio Interaction

Usually the hardest radio connect with for a pilot to make is the to start with 1 — the “initial call up.” Nevertheless, every single first simply call (and a lot of subsequent calls) just have to have to recall the 4 W’s:

  • Who am I contacting?
  • Who am I?
  • The place am I?
  • The place am I heading, what am I undertaking, or what do I want to do?

Let us consider two examples of this, a person for an uncontrolled area and 1 with a manage tower.

As you get prepared to enter the visitors sample at an uncontrolled subject, usually you will make an announcement these types of as:

“Milltown targeted visitors (who am I contacting?), Cessna 12345 (who am I?) coming into 45 to downwind (in which am I?), runway 22 for landing Milltown (what am I doing?).

With a control tower, you may well instead say:

Ocala tower (who am I calling?), Cessna 12345 (who am I?) eight miles north at two thousand five hundred with Charlie (the place am I? — and insert the ATIS), landing Ocala (what do I want to do?).

At the time you have proven interaction, you do not want to use the four Ws for all of your interaction. As an alternative, you will just read through back again essential instructions to the controller so they know you have obtained them. For example, if the controller asks you to enter a proper downwind for runway 24, you would reply, “Cessna 12345 will enter right downwind for 24.”

Check out some distinctive eventualities with your friends or a flight teacher, and very quickly you’ll know what to say at all instances.


Even when you know what to say, chatting on the radio still requires some apply. Here are some strategies that will have you talking like a professional in no time.

  1. Hear to ATC communications. If you really don’t have a radio that receives aviation frequencies, see if you can borrow a person from yet another pilot or your flight school for a week. Hear to what pilots say to ATC on their first simply call up and how they react to ATC directions. Try out to pay attention to floor, tower, tactic, and center frequencies if you can.
  2. Compose down what you are going to say ahead of you make your preliminary radio contact. You can even make up fill-in-the-blank scripts to do this. Just after a couple of weeks of this, most individuals can make phone calls on their have, but you may even now want to write down difficult phone calls.
  3. If you’re a university student pilot, be absolutely sure to say so in your initial get in touch with up so ATC will be far more very careful in how they deal with you.
  4. Don’t be worried if you ignore some thing. Even experienced pilots from time to time forget about to inform the controller their altitude or that they have the ATIS. You should not stress — controllers will check with you for something if you have forgotten it.
  5. Examine Chapter 4 and the Pilot/Controller Glossary in the Aeronautical Data Handbook for suggested phrasing.

If all else fails, use basic English! Not all scenarios lend by themselves to suggested ATC phrases or you may just neglect how to say something. I was at the time departing an unfamiliar airport and as I referred to as floor I suddenly realized I had no idea in which I was on the airport. The phone went a thing like this, “Littletown floor, Cessna 12345, ummm… ” (at this position I was wildly on the lookout all over me) “I’m at the Chevron indicator, all set to taxi with Delta, departing to the west.” Whew — saved by the Chevron fuel indication! Ground observed me and enable me taxi.

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