Impress your pilot

Here are a few simple ways to get you started impressing your pilot without spending hours studying.

  • Learn the alphabet

I know what you’re thinking…we all learned our ABC’s in grade school. But the alphabet I’m talking about is the ICAO Phonetic Alphabet, also called the NATO Alphabet. Ever listened to your pilot talk or heard radio communications where they used a word to replace the letter they were trying to say? There is actually a method to the madness! Who knew? Learn some of the words that correspond with the letters and impress the yoke right out of his hands!

Letter Call Sign Letter Call Sign
A Alpha N November
B Bravo O Oscar
C Charlie P Papa
D Delta Q Quebec
E Echo R Romeo
F Foxtrot S Sierra
G Golf T Tango
H Hotel U Uniform
I India V Victor
J Juliet W Whiskey
K Kilo X X-Ray
L Lima Y Yankee
M Mike Z Zulu

  • Six Pack

This is the only six pack you’ll ever need! These six instruments are standard in every aircraft and fairly easy to learn and understand. Just to make sure I explain it right I referenced the website

Altimeter – The altimeter shows the aircraft’s altitude above sea-level. So basically it tells you how high you are.

Airspeed Indicator – This shows the aircrafts speed, usually in knots. Knots are a unit of measurement like miles. Knots and miles aren’t exactly equal, so if you are driving 45 MPH, it doesn’t mean you are going 45 knots per hour. Wikihow says, “the equation to convert knots to miles per hour is: 1 Knot = 1.15077945 mph (1.85200000 km/h). Take your number of knots and multiply it by 1.15. This will give you how fast you are moving in miles per hour.”

Vertical Speed Indicator – This instrument tells you how fast you are going either up or down.

Heading Indicator – Your heading is where you are “headed” too. The easiest way for me to learn this one was to pull up the compass on my iPhone and whatever number was at the top was the direction I was currently facing or heading in.

Artificial Horizon or Attitude Indicator – This is the very first one I learned and is, for me, the easiest to remember. It “shows the aircraft’s relation to the horizon. From this the pilot can tell whether the wings are level and if the aircraft nose is pointing above or below the horizon” (Wikipedia). If you have seen any aircraft/pilot shirts that say “Watch your attitude!” This is what they are referring to.

Turn Coordinator – We go from the easiest to the hardest in my opinion. This instrument is designed to tell the pilot both an aircraft’s rate of turn and quality of turn.

  • Tell them what time it is…in Zulu time

Time is always relative to what time zone you are currently in. It may be 1:00 P.M. here but just a couple hours away it could be 2:00 P.M. That can cause a lot of confusion when you are flying. That is where Zulu time kicks in. It is the worlds time. It is also called Coordinated Universal Time, UTC and GMT which stands for Greenwich Mean Time. It is the same time everywhere! You can read more about it here

Click the following link to see the current Zulu time:

Zulu Time



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