Need Hotel-Echo-Lima-Papa learning to use the Radio? : Capt White’s guide to perfecting your RT

Need Hotel-Echo-Lima-Papa learning to use the Radio? : Capt White’s guide to perfecting your RT

One of the key aspects in learning to fly is one that is often forgotten about as it comes so naturally to all those experienced pilots out there. Initially though student pilots, including myself face the topic of this week’s blog with in trepidation.

…Talking on the Radio….

As a child, I used cups on a piece of taut string and walkie-talkies. Nowadays I use more sophisticated radio equipment, but it seems that as soon as more than one person can hear you, it becomes a whole different story. Pressing the transmit button in the aircraft can be like stage fright and you suddenly forget everything you were going to say to ATC.

For me, when learning to fly, the terminology and authority of communicating over the radio was daunting. Finding the right words, remembering what order to speak in and listening to what is being asked of you can seem like a huge task, especially when you’re trying to fly a helicopter at the same time! The CAP413 and Radiotelephony – Air Pilots Manual are invaluable for showing how it should be said.

Try not to get too caught up in this though as it’s important to always remember to AVIATE, NAVIGATE and then COMMUNICATE. When you are set up and ready, a good tool to use is the 4W’s

Who you’re talking to;

Who you are;

Where you are;

What you want.

It can be a little bit more complicated than that, and there are many other techniques for organising your call, such as ADDPAR (Aircraft, Departure, Destination, Position, Altitude, Request) so find the one that works best for you. It’s also often a good idea to write down what you want to say in the beginning, so that it is one less thing to think about when you press that button to speak. Personally, I found it helpful to listen to radio calls online using sites such as LiveATC and recorded videos, writing down what was said and trying to understand what was being asked.

Perhaps most importantly, take a deep breath and compose yourself before talking – the last thing you want to do is stumble over words or leave your finger stuck on the button! It will come with practice so don’t be afraid to use simple memory aids in the beginning and just have a go as what’s the worst that can happen…

If you need HOTEL-ECHO-LIMA-PAPA with your RT then email

Comments are closed.