Listen before you transmit. Many times you can get
the information you want through ATIS, or by listening
to other conversations on the frequency. Do not clutter
the airwaves with irrelevant information. Wait for an
obvious break in broadcasts. Do not interrupt. Think before keying your transmitter. Know what you want
to say. If it is lengthy, jot it down first.
The microphone should be very close to your lips.
After pressing the mike button, a slight pause may be
necessary to be sure the first word is transmitted.
Speak in a normal conversational tone.
Remember to release the mike button after you speak
or you will be unable to receive.
The term initial contact or initial call-up means the
first radio call you make to a given facility, or the first
call to a different controller/AFSS specialist within a
Use the following format:
(1) name of facility being
(2) your full aircraft identification (the prefix
“November” for “N” is omitted),
(3) the type of
message to follow or your request if it is short, and
(4) the word over if required.
Examples: LIVERMORE TOWER, BALLOON FOUR
THREE ONE AT THE BALLOON FIELD READY
TO LAUNCH WITH BRAVO (The ID of ATIS
LIVERMORE TOWER, BALLOON FIVE FIVE
SIX THREE WHISKEY, WITH YOU AT TWO
THOUSAND FEET OVER THE CITY,
For subsequent contacts and responses to call-up from
a ground facility, use the same format as used for initial
contact except state your message or request with
the call-up in one transmission. The ground station
and the word over may be omitted if the message
requires an obvious reply and there is no possibility
Aircraft Call Signs
Generally, the prefix N is dropped and the aircraft
manufacturer’s name or model is stated instead. In
the case of balloons, the word balloon should precede
the registration number.
Examples: BALLOON SIX FIVE FIVE GOLF
BALLOON FIVE ONE FOUR SEVEN NINER
Using the word balloon is recommended
because ATC may not be familiar with balloon makes
and models. If the controller does not respond
appropriately, precede your registration number with
“hot air balloon.” Some balloon makes could be
confused with certain airplane makes.