Most of us as kids dreamt about flying a plane at one point or another. Besides the appealing mystique and imposing stature of the planes, the mere sight of the super humans responsible for flying the tons of metal through the skies, with their crisp uniforms and almost divine powers, are also equally bewitching.

Today, we will look to shed some light on the mystery of flying planes and elaborate on some of the jargon used by the pilots in their day to day operations. The whole list can be found at Ask the Pilot courtesy, Smith, also the author of “Cockpit Confidential”


1) Doors to arrival and crosscheck

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You might have heard the announcement, “Flight attendants, doors to arrival and crosscheck.” This usually is made by the lead flight attendant when the plane is about to arrive at the gate and is a signal to check that the emergency escape slides attached at each door have been disarmed. Otherwise, they automatically deploy as soon as the door is opened.


2) All-call

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All-call is usually a continuation of the door arming/disarming procedure.

“This is a request that each flight attendant report via intercom from his or her station — a sort of flight attendant conference call,” wrote Smith.

3) Holding pattern


“A racetrack-shaped course flown during weather or traffic delays,” Smith wrote. “Published holding patterns are depicted on aeronautical charts, but one can be improvised almost anywhere.”

4) Last minute paperwork

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Usually, when the flight is a bit late you would hear,

“We’re just finishing up some last minute paperwork and should be underway shortly…”

According to Smith, this “paperwork” entails a revision of the flight plan and route, or readjustment of the plane’s weight-and-balance record, or simply getting the flight’s log book in order.

5) Ground stop

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Smith writes,

“The phrase, “there’s a ground stop on all flights” means that the point of departures to one or more destinations are curtailed by air traffic control; usually due to a traffic backlog,” Smith wrote.



6) Air pocket


This is a colloquial term for heading into bad weather and receiving a jolt of turbulence.

7) Final approach

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A final approach to a destination means,

“For pilots, an airplane is on final approach when it has reached the last, straight-in segment of the landing pattern — that is, aligned with the extended centerline of the runway, requiring no additional turns or maneuvering,” Smith wrote. “Flight attendants speak of final approach on their own more general terms, in reference to the latter portion of the descent.”

8) Deadhead

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A pilot or flight attendant who deadheads on a flight is actually traveling to a destination to be part of another on-duty assignment.

“This is not the same as commuting to work or engaging in personal travel,” he clarified.

9) Direct flight



A “direct” flight doesn’t mean it won’t make any stops on to its destination. That flight is usually known as a non-stop flight. This instead means that the flight has the same routing and its reference number does not change.

“This is a carryover from the days when flights between major cities routinely made intermediate stops, sometimes several of them,” Smith wrote.


10) The ramp

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The ramp refers to the area that is closest to the terminal where planes and vehicles are taxi and park. The terminology dates back to the early days of aviation.

“In the early days of aviation, many aircraft were amphibious seaplanes or floatplanes. If a plane wasn’t flying, it was either in the water or it was ‘on the ramp,'” Smith wrote.