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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Putting people in their style

I have previously expounded the benefits of not being a douche, generally in an online capacity. But I - like all of us - do appreciate a bit of superiority, when it is properly used to check the unwarranted arrogance of another. The term "humble brag" is generally used ironically, but a literal humble brag, when delivered deadpan and as a counter to another's over bragging, can be a beautiful thing. So here are three examples of the best to brighten up your Monday. (Disclaimer: I didn't come up with these, I'm just sharing them)


Fastest Guys Out There*

A story from a pilot in a Lockheed SR-71 flying a training sortie from Colorado to California

The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace. We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot asked Center for a readout of his ground speed. Center replied: "November Charlie 175, I’m showing you at ninety knots on the ground." Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional, tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the "Houston Center voice". Just moments after the Cessna’s inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his groundspeed. in Beach. "I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed." Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren. Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. "Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check." Before Center could reply, I’m thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a readout? Then I got it, ol’ Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He’s the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: "Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground." And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done – in mere seconds we’ll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. Then, I heard it. The click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: "Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?" There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request: "Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground." I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: "Ah, Center, much thanks, we’re showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money." For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center Voice when LA came back with: "Roger that Aspen, your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one." It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day’s work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.

*By Brian Schul, posted on

Kings of the Sky*

A fighter jet avoids a diplomatic incident

Argentinian air defence site: "Unknown aircraft, you are in Argentinian airspace. Identify yourself". Aircraft: "This is a British aircraft I am in Falklands Islands airspace". Argentinian air defence site: "You are in Argentinian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft". Aircraft: "This is a Royal Air Force Tornado fighter. Send them up. I'll wait". Argentinian air defence site: [Silence]

*Reportedly overheard on VHF Guard 121.5 MHz, but it's also been reported as an American fighter pilot talking to Iranians, so it's veracity is in question

Kings of the Seas*

Transcript of a radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995. Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operations US Warship: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision. Respondent: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision. US Warship: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course. Respondent: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course. US Warship: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States' Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that's one five degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship. Respondent: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

*This one has been widely debunked as an urban legend, but it was one of my Grandma's favourites.

Photos all from Pixabay

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