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Talk like a pilot!

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate day, (Sept 19th) I thought I’d put up some phrases you can use to sound like a pilot.

Pilot: We’re preflighted and ready to go. We’re ready to bore some holes in the sky.
Instructor: OK Let’s kick the tires and light the fires.

Pilot: Barnstormer 1EE ready for taxi.
Tower: Standby

Tower: Barnstormer 1EE bird activity south of the airport. Cleared for takeoff.
Pilot: Roger that. Cleared for takeoff.

Co-pilot: More right rudder, Scotty!
Pilot: Wilco

ATC: Barnstormer 1EE Traffic at your 2 o’clock . Six miles.
Pilot: We’re looking. 1EE

Pilot: Barnstormer 1EE has the traffic in sight.
ATC: Roger

ATC: Barnstormer 1EE do you have the traffic?
Pilot: Negative. 1EE

Tower: Barnstormer 1EE turn left to 220 caution wake turbulence from the departing regional. I’ve got a Cessna two miles ahead on your right at 2,500, there’s a Piper taking off behind you.
Pilot: Roger

After flying for while in the practice area you return to the field.
Pilot: Barnstormer 1EE over Avila at 2 thousand five hundred with ATIS Delta.
Tower: Barnstormer 1EE state your intentions.
Pilot: Barnstormer 1EE inbound for full stop landing.

Tower: Barnstormer 1EE extend downwind 2 miles for waterfall on final.
Pilot: Say again. 1EE.

Tower: Barnstormer 1EE extend downwind 2 miles for ducks and geese on final.
Pilot: Extending downwind. 1EE.

Tower: Barnstormer 1EE cleared to land number 2 following the Brasilia.
Pilot: Barnstormer 1EE cleared to land number 2.

Instructor: There’s a flock of geese on the runway. Let’s get out of Dodge.
Pilot to Tower: Barnstormer 1EE going around.

Instructor: Looks like you’re lined up for the landing. Now just keep the pointy end forward and the dirty side down.
Pilot: Groan.

Later after a poor landing.
Pilot: How many landings should I log for that?
Instructor: “Did we land, or were we shot down?”
Pilot: It’s a successful landing if you walk away and can use the plane again.

Tower: Take the next left if able and contact ground point 6.
Pilot: Left and ground point 6.

The first thing to remember when talking like a pilot is that you must use hand gestures. And not the wimpy finger-pointing gestures that the politicians use, but big, exuberant ones. Pretend you are French or Italian—but without the accent. Extra points for using your hips. Double points if pen and paper are involved.

More right


Always refer to yourself as we.

How to Use: Q: Can you fix it?
We’ll sure try.
How Not to Use: No examples. It’s always appropriate.


I’m busy right now but I’ll be with you in a moment. No response is necessary.

How to Use: You’re in the middle of something and can’t stop listen and work at the same time.
Q: Did you see what your son has done now?
Reply: Standby
How Not to Use: You’re in the middle of something and can’t stop or listen and work at the same time.
Q: I’ve cut myself and I’m bleeding all over the floor.
Reply: Standby

Roger that

I have received your communication. I don’t necessarily agree, disagree, or even care, but I have heard what you said.

How Not to Use: Q: The Wilsons have invited us to dinner on Thursday.
Reply: Roger that.


I have heard and understand what you said and I “Will Comply” with your instructions.

How to Use: Request: Can you fax this to these three people and then mail the original to the third person on the list?
Reply: Wilco

State your intentions

Tell me what you you plan to do next.

How to Use: Q: Dad, Can I borrow the car tonight?
Reply: State your intentions.
How not to Use: Your significant other unbuttons two shirt buttons and sits on your lap.
Response: State your intentions.

Let’s get out of Dodge.

Useful for indicating that a go-around is desired or it’s too busy at an uncontrolled field and you’ll go somewhere else.

How to Use: You’re in the middle of a crowded mall and you can’t find what you were looking for anyway.
Statement: Let’s get out of Dodge.



How to Use: Q: Did you see the game on Saturday.
Reply: Negative.
How not to Use: A husband suspects his wife is having an affair with a pilot but she keeps denying it until finally the husband just knew when his wife said:
Honey, I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice, I’ve told you niner thousand times, negative on the affair …

Say again

Please repeat as I wasn’t paying attention and I think you might have said something important. Alternatively, You can’t possibly have said what I think you just said.

How to Use: Q: Can I get my eyebrow pierced?
Reply: Say again.
How Not to Use: Q: …Blah blah blah… blah blah… car noise blah blah..
Reply: Say again.

If Able

How to Use: San Jose Tower: American 751 heavy, turn right at the end if able. If not able, take the Guadalupe exit off of Highway 101 back to the airport.

Useful phrases for sounding like a pilot

Kick the tires and light the fires.
We’re ready to bore/burn some holes in the sky.
Keep the pointy side forward and the dirty side down.
It’s a successful landing if you walked away.
How many landings should I log that one as?
More right rudder, Scotty!
I found this part in the PMA section of the Ace Hardware store.
There are old pilots and bold pilots—but no old bold pilots.
Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.

You’re not a real pilot until you’ve taken the bus home.

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