There is a pervasive rumor afoot that suggests English is the official language of aviation. This rampant innuendo is perhaps due to the FAA’s continued use of the phrase, “An applicant must…Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language,” throughout Title 14 CFR Part 61, more commonly referred to as the FARs.
And there’s the crux of the issue in one sentence. FAA, CFR, and FAR are not words in common use in the English-speaking world. As anyone engaged in aviation knows, those three terms, which aviators throw around as liberally as free candy at a birthday party, are a complete mystery to the average English speaker.
The non-pilot spouses of pilots have known this to be true for decades now. Perhaps we need a new nomenclature for the language aviation participants use. Let me throw Englaero out there for consideration.
Just as Spanglish is neither English or Spanish, but rather a tendency of the speaker to use either language with a heavy mix of words from the other, Englaero is English spoken by an individual who mixes a thick dose of aeronautical terms into their vocabulary.
A good example of an easily interpreted Englaero sentence might be, “I picked up the ATIS at Delta Alpha Bravo before calling Clearance Delivery. After punching my squawk code into the box we called Ground, taxied to the Active, and departed 25 Right.”
An aviation enthusiast would easily recognize this as a simplified explanation of the several individual steps a pilot might complete when flying out of Daytona Beach International Airport in Florida. However, to a native English speaker, it’s absolute gibberish. To a college level English teacher with no aeronautical background, it’s incomprehensible.
Yes, an entirely separate language exists in the world. It shall be known as Englaero. As I’ve already illustrated, it’s spoken globally on a daily basis. At least 1 million individuals in the US alone speak Englaero. Admittedly that number is a small percentage of the world population, but consider that Gaelic is recognized as a language even though it is only spoken by about 60,000 people worldwide. More to the point, Gaelic’s spread has limited itself to only a small portion of Scotland, while Englaero is spoken on every continent on Earth, including Antarctica.
This idea isn’t something I just came up with today on a whim, incidentally. It’s been nagging at me for some time. In fact, it stems back to my earliest days in flight training. As a still wet behind the ears student pilot, flying VFR over the Connecticut River Valley, I was befuddled by radio calls from pilots who reported Procedure Turn Outbound, or the Initial Approach Fix, or the Outer Marker, or the Inner Marker, or Going Missed.
I was flying an airplane with my focus and concentration set to maximum attentiveness, yet I didn’t have a clue what these other pilots were talking about. I was proficient in English, or as proficient as the public education system of Glastonbury, Connecticut, could make me. The other pilots clearly knew a fair number of English words. And unless I completely misunderstood my CFI’s instructions, we were both required by regulation to be speaking, reading, and writing in English whenever we were involved in an aeronautical activity.
The language I was hearing most certainly wasn’t English. It made use of English words, obviously. There were enough mystery words mixed in, however, that I couldn’t make heads nor tails of what they were saying. What they heck is an Outer Marker, and what does it look like?
It quickly became clear to me that what I was hearing, what I was being trained to speak, was not English at all. It was Englaero, an as yet unrecognized language.
Latin is a well-recognized language. People who speak Latin are considered to be intelligent, well-educated, and capable of great things. In reality however nobody, not one single person on the planet, can categorically say they know for sure what Latin is even supposed to sound like. And just try to order breakfast in Latin at a Panera Bread restaurant. You’ll be going hungry, I guarantee you that much.
Try the same thing in Englaero and you’ll more than likely get some odd looks, but you’ll get your breakfast. When the counter person says, “May I help you?” the native Englaero speaker can respond with gusto, “Good morning Panera Staffer, Beckett 1 at the front of the line, requesting the Chipotle Scrambled Egg and Avocado, large coffee, black, to go, Southbound Departure.”
Now, aside from the slightly glazed look that comes over the individual behind the counter, and perhaps some giggling and pointing by those behind you in the line, you’re more than likely to get pretty much what you ordered. Which proves that Englaero has use beyond the airport fence. It can often be understood well enough by English speakers to be successfully used in normal day to day activities.
The reverse is not necessarily true. Should a well spoken English user with no Englaero training tune in to the Tower Frequency and press the transmit button, the result might be something like…”Hey out there, this is Bob from Indigo Plantation over there near Interstate 95. Well, anyway, Marge and I are just about ready to go ahead and take off here. We took the whole week off from work, you know. Going on vacation to tell you the truth. Of course, we got a sitter for the dogs. We’re only going to be gone for a few days, but we love those little fur balls, so we do our best to take good care of them. Regular vet visits and everything. Whew, I don’t even want to think about what that costs us. Anywho, we’re sitting down here by the runway and we’re ready to takeoff when you’ve got space for us to roll on out there. Over and out, or whatever it is you guys say at a time like this.”
And that, dear reader, is why Englaero needs to be recognized, officially adopted, and used religiously by aviation enthusiasts the world over. ‘Nuff said.