Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Is The Phonetic Alphabet?

Sometimes words just have to be written for others. I’ve been on phone calls where the person on the other end is writing about me and it’s painful. “Was that ‘b’ or ‘p’?” Sometimes they will try to use words with the initial letter, trying to convey the letter: “B like a boy.” Then they will murmur as they think desperately about the words “k” … “ketchup.” Okay, but is this really ketchup or cat? Now think about how much easier it is to spell on the phone than on a poor quality radio channel. What we say, and how we say it, is the key to our brain’s ability to make mistakes in correcting human speech. This is a solved problem that has long been embedded in the radio label.

Sam Houston National Forest is miles from the repeater we use to communicate during the local IronMan and other public service events. With spotted cell coverage, our radios are the only viable tool. But it’s really amazing how much RF can take a pine forest. With these events near the coverage limits of the repeater, it can be a challenge to find a place that is not in a “hole”, even with the help of my 50 watt mobile platform.

Sometimes event attendees need help, so we call an ambulance to pick them up. We will give their bib number and gender, “The rider is a woman, a foxtrot, with a bib number, figures, 1234”, for a woman with a bib 1234. The man is a “microphone”. We use letters chosen from a standard phonetic or spelling alphabet so that no one is looking for words.

Identify the police officer

Spelling alphabets emerged because early users of radio stations, such as police departments, had similar problems with weak or uncertain signals. The employee who calls the registration number must be accurate. Unfortunately, the English letters are easily confused. Did the employee or the ham say “P” or “B” during the event?

Police began using the phonetic alphabet, where the first letter of the word is the transmitted letter. So in my case, my plate is a Kilo Five Romeo Uniform Delta, using NATO’s current phonetic alphabet. But it took us a while to get here. An early alphabet used by the Los Angeles Police Department is based on people’s names:

Adam Boy Charles David Edward Frank George Henry Ida John King Lincoln 
Mary Nora Ocean Paul Queen Robert Sam Tom Union Victor William Xray 
Yellow Zebra

The PD alphabet of New York uses several different names: Charlie Peter Young. In 1948, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) adopted the NYPD words with the replacement of Baker Lewis Nancy Otto Susan Thomas Zebra.

NATO phonetic alphabet

One motivation for changing words in the alphabet is to improve comprehension. Local police officers would understand the local accents of other officers, so the understanding is high. It is more difficult to understand some words when communicating two hams with different regional accents in the United States. The accents helped to change the ARRL alphabet.

As its name implies, the main role of the ARRL in the early days was to transmit messages in the United States and internationally. This was at a time when long-distance telephone calls were so expensive that one could only use them for emergencies. A friendly local ham can insert a message into the ARRL National Traffic System and it will speed up its way to the recipient. Unfortunately, this system does not work so well today.

Adoption of the NATO phonetic alphabet

The aviation industry and the military have faced the same problem of understanding operating across national borders. This led to the development of the International Spelling Alphabet for Radiotelephony, also known as the NATO or International Civil Aviation Alphabet. It is widely used by other organizations. ARRL and hams fall under the jurisdiction of the International Telecommunication Union, which determines the use of this alphabet, so it replaced the 1948 alphabet. as mentioned, weak signal strength.

There was still a problem. Users in different languages ​​did not pronounce the words in the same way, at least following the English spelling of the word. This required pronunciation guides for different speakers. The diagram shown is for English speakers. One for a French speaker would be different.

Spit out numbers and avoid deltas

digital alphabetTransmitting numbers is just as important. Distinguishing flight 123, 767 from flight 456, 737, when landing at the airport is quite critical. In a related aviation issue, the word “Delta” is not used for “D” at airports, such as Hatfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, where Delta Airlines has a large presence. To avoid confusion, use “Data”, “Dixie” or “David”.

A guide to pronouncing numbers is also provided to deal with the issue of numbers. Sounds a little strange to our inner ears when we read the list. In fact, it sounds much better, although hams usually just use our everyday pronunciations.

The message processing itself requires some adaptations. When a difficult word is conveyed in the message, the sender must write it for the recipient. For example, “This article was edited by Szczys, I’m writing, Sierra Zulu Charlie Zulu Yankee Sierra.” Zee-ro page visits. ”Another related technique is the transmission of the characters themselves when they are not a word. This could be for abbreviations like ARRL or an airport designation like IAH for Intercontinental Airport Houston. You will say, “I am a member of the initials, Alf Romeo Romeo Lima.”

I memorized the NATO alphabet for use in ham radio. But there are times, like writing my name for someone on the phone, when it’s helpful to have it on the tip of my tongue. A negative reaction that I have seen is that someone sees that the use of the alphabet is pretentious, as if the hams are defined as better. Of course not. It’s just training.