What is the Pilot Alphabet?

It does not matter if you are an experienced pilot, you are just learning how to become a pilot or if you are a co-pilot, something that you will need to learn along the way is the language of aviation.

If you are wondering what we are talking about when we say this, we are going to tell you exactly what we mean in this article to help you learn about the way that pilots speak. We will also provide you with some information about why they do this and how it all came about.

Pilots will have their own little language of aviation terms and phrases that are often used and these will be taught to you in your pilot training.

If you want to get ahead of the game and find out what the pilot alphabet is, then you have come to the right place.

What is the Pilot Alphabet?

When it comes to aviation, both pilots and air traffic controllers will use a special way of communicating with each other. This is often referred to as the aviation alphabet, or the pilot alphabet.

It uses the same 26 letters as the standard alphabet that is taught in schools, but each letter will have a corresponding word that will be used for identification.

Each of these letters will have its own name in aviation, and this is basically to avoid the possible confusion between letters if you were to just say the letter on its own.

As an example, you could easily confuse the letters B and V if you heard them, but it would be much more difficult to confuse the words Bravo and Victor.

How Do Pilots Say Letters?

Every single letter of the alphabet will have a code word that makes it harder to mispronounce, and it should be understood universally by any English speaker.

Every pilot around the world will have to know both English and the phonetic alphabet. If you were to listen to a conversation between a pilot and Air Traffic Control, you would likely hear these words.

The pilot alphabet is as follows: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-Ray, Yankee, Zulu.

Why Do Pilots Use the Pilot Alphabet?

This alphabet is used to ensure that nobody gets confused about what is actually being said in a crowded airspace where controllers are directing multiple aircraft with differing speeds, requirements and requests.

It is second nature for pilots to have to communicate this way, and it is another part of flying that every pilot in training will have to learn. Communication is essential to get right when you are flying a plane, as a miscommunication can, at times, be fatal.

The phonetic alphabet is actually a spelling alphabet that has been designed to clear up any misunderstandings that could otherwise occur, especially due to the fact that different people will pronounce English words differently.

The code words make it much easier to pronounce and understand any information that is being transmitted by telephone or radio, even when the quality of the call is not the best. This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to stick to the pilot alphabet in flight.

This alphabet was created after it had been tested multiple times on a scientific basis, and it has now become a universal language that is used for a variety of purposes. It has come a long way since it was first used around the time of World War II, which was a time when many different nations used their own versions of a spelling alphabet.

Common Aviation Phrases

Now that you know exactly what the pilot alphabet is, we are going to go over some commonly used aviation phrases, so you can learn what they mean.


This refers to an aircraft’s transponder code, which can be a standard code, an adjective, or a verb.

Standard codes are discrete codes that are assigned by Air Traffic Control. This phrase can be used in a few different ways, depending on the circumstances and the intended message.


This is a phrase that many people will have heard in movies that include planes going down.

Mayday means that there is an emergency, and it is hoped that this isn’t a word that you ever have to use.


You might have wondered why pilots will say roger after they have finished talking, and it is basically so they can say that they have received and understood the transmission.

This comes from the earlier days of aviation with practices from the telegraph industry. When Morse code transmissions were used, they could be unreliable, so the receiver would transmit the letter R when they received a message.