Learn to talk like a pilot: Alpha to Zulu

Stein Mjåtveit

If you have ever had the pleasure of riding jumpseat in the cockpit, meaning that you get to sit up front with the pilots, you know how complex the communication between pilots and Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) sound to the untrained ear (unless you are a pilot/ATC yourself of course). 

In this blog series, you will learn to talk like a pilot and get to know the most common phrases exchanged between pilots and ATC. Along with an explanation of what the different phrases mean. The series will consist of three parts that will be published with one week intervals:

  1. Phonetic Alphabet
  2. Phraseology
  3. Clearances

Tune into the Pilot Talk podcast

Pilot Talk is a new podcast that will touch upon the newest trends in aviation, pilot education and feature exciting guests from the aviation world!

Pilot Talk by OSM Aviation - Spotify Pilot Talk by OSM Aviation - iTunes Pilot Talk by OSM Aviation - Podbean

Phonetic Alphabet

Let's get the basics down first, every letter has its own name in aviation. This is to avoid the possible confusion between letters if you would simply say the letter itself. For example, the letters B and V could easily be confused with each other when spoken on the radio. If we instead say "Bravo" or "Victor" it is almost impossible to confuse the two.

Here comes the full list:


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


Numbers are pronounced in a different way on the radio to make them more distinct. You probably know how to count to ten, so we included the slightly different pronunciation next to each number. 

  • 0 - "Zero"
  • 1 - "Wun"
  • 2 - "Two"
  • 3 - "Tree" (pronounced like a Scandinavian)
  • 4 - "Fower"
  • 5 - "Fife"
  • 6 - "Six"
  • 7 - "Seven"
  • 8 - "Eight"
  • 9 - "Niner"
  • 100 - "Wun hundred"
  • 1000 - "Wun thousand"
  • 10 000 - "Wun, zero thousand"
  • FL330 - "Flight level tree, tree, zero"

Sweden even has three additional letters in their phonetic alphabet, Ä, Ö, and Å. We will leave them out in this blog post, check the Swedish translation if you want to learn them as well. 

Bookmark this page to come back and practice later on. Another great resource where you can familiarize yourself with the words traveling across our radiowaves is www.liveatc.net - Where you can listen in on most airports around the world.

Tune in on OSMAA's frequencies

Want to listen to what is going on around our bases? Check out the feed from Västerås, Sweden, Arendal, Norway, and Fort Lauderdale, USA below! Remember that if you are in Europe listening to the Fort Lauderdale feed at 10:00 CET it will be nighttime and not much activity in Fort Lauderdale. 

Live ATC feed from Västerås (Västerås is UTC +1 hour from 30th of October to the 27th of March and UTC +2 for the rest of the year)

Live ATC feed from Arendal (Arendal is UTC +1 hour from 30th of October to the 27th of March and UTC +2 for the rest of the year)

Live ATC feed from Fort Lauderdale (Fort Lauderdale is UTC -4 hours between 6th of November and 13th of March and UTC -3 for the rest of the year)

If the links above are not working you can search for the ICAO codes of the airports we operate from and around:


Airport Name ICAO Code
Stockholm, Västerås Airport ESOW
Eskilstuna Airport ESSU





Airport Name ICAO Code
Arendal, Gullknapp Airport ENGK
Kristiansand, Kjevik Airport ENCN





Airport Name ICAO Code
Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport KFXE
Miami International Airport KMIA




We operate to many other airports in both Sweden, Norway, and the US as well, but the ones above allow you to listen in to the flights departing from and flying around our bases. All OSMAA flights in Sweden use the callsign "Scavac", so if you hear "Scavac" followed by two numbers you know that it is one of us!




Tune into Pilot Talk, a podcast where you will learn more about the fascinating world of aviation and more about how you can become a pilot.>>Listen here<<  

Pilot Talk podcast by OSM Aviation

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