podcast #4: The flying Alter Ego

Hans Werner/ETA

On a sparkling Friday, years ago:

I had left lectures, books and desk alone and driven to the airport rather than the physics library, bringing a friend along.

Two hours later Peter and I sat in a twoseater 2500 feet above the Franconian hills when the radio suddenly came alive.
An edgy voice asked: “Delta 1378, where are you?”
That was the way to make a call, then. The guy who had to keep track of take off’s and landings had lost sight of us and that made him nervous enough to search for us by radio.
To give his call a certain ‘formal urgency’ he used the official registration of the plane rather than my name. He also could have called our good old ASK 13 “Uncle Carl” as that was painted in elegant letters on the nose of her fuselage. Alas, he didn’t as that was not the custom then.

Today that “Delta – suchandsuch” is only used in official communications with the Fed’s, the air traffic controlers. When two pilots want to talk to each other they use their aerial pseudonym (which sometimes is not that ‘pseudo’): the contest number. This is a combination of up to three letters and/or numbers which is sprayed on the vertical tail.
“IQ” or “SM” or whatever it may be is not always pronounced in the official alphabet of the radio waves, as those letters are apparently an invitation, a tease, to come up with a personal interpretation. They turn into nicknames, occasionally with a pretty sharp edge.
The genesis of those nicknames often reveals particular traits of pilot and/or plane; it tells a little story.

I wrote up a few of those stories and turned them into chapter two of “Among Clouds”.
You can download the illustrated pdf here – for free -, and the audio fans find the player of the podcast player-button below (and a Download link, as well).

If you like it, leave a comment below and check out story/podcast #1 “Return From Outer Space” .


One Response to “The flying Alter Ego”

  1. C2 Charlie Collman says:


    Another great story. It is always great to hear from you.


Comment? Antwort?