What is the hardest aspect about pilot education? Virtually absolutely everyone will say, “Speaking on the radio.” Having said that, even novices can sound very good on the radio if they apply some very simple guidelines. I will 1st talk about these guidelines and then give some guidelines all pilots can use to enhance their radio expertise.

The 4 W's of Radio Communication

Ordinarily the hardest radio contact for a pilot to make is the 1st 1 — the “initial contact up.” Having said that, each initial contact (and lots of subsequent calls) just have to have to bear in mind the 4 W's:

  • Who am I calling?
  • Who am I?
  • Exactly where am I?
  • Exactly where am I going, what am I undertaking, or what do I want to do?

Let's take two examples of this, 1 for an uncontrolled field and 1 with a manage tower.

As you get prepared to enter the targeted traffic pattern at an uncontrolled field, generally you will make an announcement such as:

“Milltown targeted traffic (who am I calling?), Cessna 12345 (who am I?) getting into 45 to downwind (exactly where am I?), runway 22 for landing Milltown (what am I undertaking?).

With a manage tower, you may well alternatively say:

Ocala tower (who am I calling?), Cessna 12345 (who am I?) eight miles north at two thousand 5 hundred with Charlie (exactly where am I? — and add the ATIS), landing Ocala (what do I want to do?).

When you have established communication, you do not have to have to use the 4 Ws for all of your communication. Rather, you will just study back crucial guidelines to the controller so they know you have received them. For instance, if the controller asks you to enter a proper downwind for runway 24, you would reply, “Cessna 12345 will enter proper downwind for 24.”

Attempt some diverse scenarios with your close friends or a flight instructor, and quite quickly you will know what to say at all instances.


Even when you know what to say, speaking on the radio nonetheless requires some practice. Right here are some guidelines that will have you speaking like a pro in no time.

  1. Listen to ATC communications. If you do not have a radio that receives aviation frequencies, see if you can borrow 1 from one more pilot or your flight college for a week. Listen to what pilots say to ATC on their initial contact up and how they respond to ATC directions. Attempt to listen to ground, tower, strategy, and center frequencies if you can.
  2. Create down what you are going to say prior to you make your initial radio contact. You can even make up fill-in-the-blank scripts to do this. Immediately after a handful of weeks of this, most folks can make calls on their personal, but you may perhaps nonetheless want to create down difficult calls.
  3. If you happen to be a student pilot, be positive to say so in your initial contact up so ATC will be much more cautious in how they manage you.
  4. Do not be concerned if you overlook a thing. Even seasoned pilots from time to time overlook to inform the controller their altitude or that they have the ATIS. Do not be concerned — controllers will ask you for a thing if you have forgotten it.
  5. Study Chapter four and the Pilot/Controller Glossary in the Aeronautical Information Manual for encouraged phraseology.

If all else fails, use plain English! Not all scenarios lend themselves to encouraged ATC phrases or you may perhaps just overlook how to say a thing. I was as soon as departing an unfamiliar airport and as I referred to as ground I abruptly realized I had no concept exactly where I was on the airport. The contact went a thing like this, “Littletown ground, Cessna 12345, ummm… ” (at this point I was wildly hunting about me) “I am at the Chevron sign, prepared to taxi with Delta, departing to the west.” Whew — saved by the Chevron gas sign! Ground located me and let me taxi.