The Importance of Good Radio Etiquette

posted in: Flight Operations | 0

Hello pilots and aviation enthusiasts!  Welcome back to my aviation blog. Today I want to talk a little about radio etiquette. It isn’t the most interesting aviation topic but it is very important. We all know that good communication is important in many different aspects of life, aviation included. If you have ever listened to Air Traffic Control in busy airspace or flown into a place like Chicago then you know how crazy it can get. I’m going to discuss some tips and tricks that will hopefully help you in your own flying adventures.

The first and most important radio tip I can give is to wait a few seconds before pressing the mic button. For everyone else listening it is severely annoying when someone steps on another person talking. The noise the radio makes when two people are transmitting is almost unbearable, at least the noise is that my radio makes when two people are transmitting at the same time. When I am out flying our survey missions, I am constantly around small, uncontrolled airports. I usually make position calls and also monitor for traffic. One of the problems, of course, is that many airports share the same advisory frequency. There are days where I need to mute the radio because of how bad people are stepping on one another. So please, do everyone a favor and be careful not to step on someone. The noise is bad enough, but more importantly, no one can hear the position reports of the person talking which becomes a safety hazard. The next item is the most mis used word on the radio: “Roger”. When I was in school we had an air traffic controller speak at one of our safety meetings and he opened his lecture with “Don’t get your radio phraseology from Hollywood”.  Saying “Roger” on the radio to a controller means nothing to them. If you’re given an instruction either read it back or respond with “Wilco” which means “Will Comply”. I am guilty of using “Roger” like most people but I am trying to mitigate that.

I did all of my flight training out of Dubuque Regional Airport which is a class D airport. The airport has a control tower that is open during the day. I remember being terrified to talk to them on the radio. It was about my third lesson when my instructor looked at me and said “We can sit here and ilde all day, but im not calling ground. It’s all you” I was still scared but I pulled through and if you’re uneasy about talking to ATC you can pull through too. The biggest tip I can give is to plan out what your going to say before you push the mic button. After 500 hours flying I still think, then talk. With practice you will be able to think it through faster and faster. If you’re in a controlled enviorment and you’re a student pilot, don’t be afraid to let the controllers know you’re a student pilot when you initially contact them. They will work with you. Note too that ATC isn’t the police, they don’t police the skies. They are there to help.

Above is a link to good information about radio phraseology. You can also check the AIM or ICAO for more tips and tricks. Remember that good radio etiquette is important when flying. Phraseology is key when trying to communicate to both traffic and also ATC. If you’re using non standard phraseology then there is a chance that you will not be understood. Stepping on people isn’t good either because no one will be able to understand what you or the other person is trying to communicate.


Well everyone, thats all for now. Fly safe and remember to have fun! If you have a question or a topic you would like me to cover, feel free to email me at 

Michael Cornelius

Flight Operations Manager / Pilot

Winterset Aviation Services

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *