Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Very Plane Speaking

The ritual of the Captain's annoucement is something all air travellers have experienced. Sometimes ignored, sometimes listened to avidly it is part of the fabric of modern air travel. Some airlines like to trade on the reassuringly calm and competent tones of their flight crew and encourage pilots to adopt the appropriate tone of formality. Other airlines prefer to project a slightly jazzier image and encourage crews to ad-lib, tell jokes or even sing the in flight announcements.

Such excesses have raised their fair share of laughs, but they will also have made many passengers cringe when the PA system blasts out the lastest routine from a captain who really should have stuck to the script. No doubt many microphone shy pilots have tried to cut their broadcasts down in order to minimise the whole unpleasant business, but one stands out as a beacon to announcement economy. Thanks to Colwyn Lee of Derbyshire we have learned that when he was a young co-pilot he had the pleasure of sharing the flight deck with a very blunt Yorkshireman who had brilliantly trimmed his inflight announcement down to two syllables: at the appropriate moment in the flight he would announce "'alf way."

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