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Bits and Pieces

Aviation Words

By Ian Brown, Editor – Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159

This month we focus our communications skills at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet. We use it all the time. However, reading through the pronunciation rules, how many of us know that, not only are the numbers pronounced in very specific ways, but a couple of the letters would trip most of us up?

According to the pronunciation guide for the ICAO phonetic/spelling alphabet:   

Oscar is not pronounced Os-car (with a strong R), but Os-cah, the way the English say it.

Victor is not pronounced Vic-tor, but Vic-tah, also very English.

Quebec is not pronounced Qwee-bec, but Keh-bec, the way Quebecers say it!

How many of us have heard Wun, Tree, Fower, Fife, or Niner recently? That’s what we’re supposed to be saying. Pity the poor francophone pilot trying to get his tongue around “presently over Thetford Mines at tree thousand, tree hundred feet”!


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