Flightlines

“Here’s Why” of the week

Taking our “Here’s Why” from the paper to the blog. An explanation for why something is the way it is in the Air Force/military.

See how the alphabet changed over time. (Source: history.navy.mil).

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie… the way the phonetic alphabet – formally known as the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet – starts out as most know it today. This wasn’t the way the phonic code always began, but what prompted the final change?
From the 1930s and into WWII, the Royal Air Force adopted the RAF phonetic alphabet, and the U.S. adopted the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet which went something like this: Able Baker Charlie Dog Easy Fox George How Item Jig King Love Mike Nan Oboe Peter Queen Roger Sugar Tare Uncle Victor William X-ray Yoke Zebra.

But because the British and U.S. armed forces each had its own spelling alphabets, there was room for error. It was revised, but errors still loomed in the pronunciation of words amongst a few countries.

Finally, the International Civil Aviation Organization spelling alphabet (Alfa, Bravo) made its way in 1956, making it the final version we know today. The International Telecommunication Union adopted it around 1959, when they mandated its usage governing all international radio communications, including radio operators, military, civilian or amateur.

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