In his book, Sled Driver, SR-71 Blackbird pilot Brian Shul writes:
"I'll always remember a certain radio exchange that occurred one day as Walt (my backseater) and I were screaming across Southern California 13 miles high. We were monitoring various radio transmissions from other aircraft as we entered Los Angeles airspace. Though they didn't really control us, they did monitor our movement across their scope.
"I heard a Cessna ask for a readout of its groundspeed." '90 knots' Center replied. Moments later, a Twin Beech required the same."
"120 knots," Center answered.
"We weren't the only ones proud of our groundspeed that day as almost instantly an F-18 smugly transmitted, 'Ah, Center, Dusty52 requests groundspeed readout.'There was a slight pause, then the response, "525 knots on the ground, Dusty."
"Another silent pause. As I was thinking to myself how ripe a situation this was, I heard a familiar click of a radio transmission coming from my backseater. It was at that precise moment I realized Walt and I had become a real crew, for we were both thinking in unison."
"Center, Aspen 20, you got a groundspeed readout for us?"
"There was a longer than normal pause .... "Aspen, I show 1,742 knots."
No further inquiries were heard on that frequency.
In another famous SR-71 story, Los Angeles Center reported receiving a request for clearance to FL 60 (60,000ft). The incredulous controller, with some disdain in his voice, asked, "How do you plan to get up to 60,000 feet?
The pilot (obviously a sled driver), responded, "We don't plan to go up to it, we plan to go down to it." He was cleared.
The pilot was sitting in his seat and pulled out a .38 revolver. He placed it on top of the instrument panel, and then asked the navigator, "Do you know what I use this for?"
The navigator replied timidly, "No, what's it for?"
The pilot responded, "I use this on navigators who get me lost!"
The navigator proceeded to pull out a .45 and place it on his chart table. The pilot asked, "What's that for?"
"To be honest sir," the navigator replied, "I'll know we're lost before you will."
More tower chatter:
Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"
One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short of the runway while a MD80 landed. The MD80 landed, rolled out, turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. Some quick-witted comedian in the MD80 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"
Our hero the Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with: "I made it out of MD80 parts. Another landing like that and I'll have enough parts for another one."
There's a story about the military pilot calling for a priority landing because his single-engine jet fighter was running "a bit peaked."
Air Traffic Control told the fighter jock that he was number two behind a B-52 that had one engine shut down.
"Ah," the pilot remarked, "the dreaded seven-engine approach."
A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?"
Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."
Taxiing down the tarmac, the 757 abruptly stopped, turned around and returned to the gate. After an hour-long wait, it finally took off. A concerned passenger asked the flight attendant, "What was the problem?"
"The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine," explained the flight attendant," and it took us a while to find a new pilot."
"Flight 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 degrees."
"But Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"
"Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"
German controllers are not known for their patience when dealing with pilots not familiar with the taxiways and needing a progressive...
After clearing the runway and contacting ground at Templehoff, the controller gave the flight crew their taxi instructions. There was a long pause and the flight crew finally responded, "Uh, TWA 775 Heavy, could we get a progressive taxi to the gate please?"
The irate controller responded, "Haf you never been to Berlin before??"
The Captain radioed back, "Well once back in '44 but we didn't stop."