Pilots don't say "Roger Wilco," arggh

I hate to accuse the Straight Dope staff of propagating Hollywood fumbles, but the article at http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mroger.htm has pilots saying “roger wilco.” :smack:

Having survived three years of military flight school, the juxtaposition of those two words causes me to cringe. “Wilco” is indeed a contraction of “will comply,” but it also denotes that the message has been understood. After all, how can I comply with something that I haven’t received and understood? Thus, pilots just say “wilco.” Maybe it’s not as snappy, but radio communication is all about clarity and brevity, not panache.

In military aviation, saying “roger wilco” immediately identifies the speaker as a student/rookie/nugget/FNG or “noob” if you prefer cool (circa 1995) chat room lingo.

In civil aviation, “wilco” is still the accepted and proper usage per the FAA and ICAO. In practice, some youngsters do say “roger wilco,” but they eventually get laughed at too. In the CB world, “roger wilco” is somewhat popular, but CB lingo is sometimes aimed more at obfuscation that clarification.

Almost as cringeworthy as “over and out.”

I understand that “roger wilco” is redundant and isn’t used in proper terminology.

However, it is common enough that a Google search for “roger wilco” in quotation marks returned 206,000 hits. So, as a term, it’s out there, and I felt that the report would be incomplete without it.

If it bothers you that much, I will inquire about changing it.


I thought “over” was for when you were finished what you had to say for the moment so the other person knew they could now say something, and "over and out " basically meant that you considered the conversation over and didn’t expect to be saying anything more in the near future?

“Over” means “You talk now”.
“Out” means “Conversation ended”.
“Over and out” is, consequently, silly.

“Roger, Wilco, Over And Out” is the classic movie phrase I suppose, that nobody would ever actually say. One unit I served with, one of the maintenance test pilots’ first name was Roger, a feature that he used for the merriment of all fairly often.

What the hell is the etymology of “roger” I wonder.

The old phonetic alphabet used “roger” for “R” or “received” - in the current ITU phonetic alphabet, “romeo” stands in for “R” but people would look at you funny if you acknowledged something with “romeo.”

No, it’s not.

1: “Over (you talk now) and out (I’m done, but you can continue).”
2: “Roger (received and understood) and out (I’m done, now, too, so there’s no point in continuing).”

Way I learned it was w/o using the “and” – I was expected to say something to the effect of “roger, out” or, if using callsigns, “roger Red, Blue out”. But I was taught to avoid over-and-out, to only say “over” if I’d be still listening for as long as it takes you to say what you have to, and only say “out” if I might switch off the radio a half second later.

I suppose the actual on-the-field usage varies per the trainer’s atyle and as may be practical to the environment and the people involved – I recall a TV show about WW2 aviators where the interviewee said on his plane they never used the “bombardier to pilot: target sighted” schtick on the intercoms, but more like “There it is, Jack!”

Yes it is.

1: “Over (you talk now) and out (I’m done, but you can continue).”

“…but I won’t be listening.” Which is, as my old friend Biffle von Gifflestein used to say, STOOPID.

It takes two to tango, y’bet. The first person is saying that his side of the conversation is done, but he is waiting for the other to agree, possibly to add a parting comment; only when both sides are done is the entire transaction over.

It worked for me in ham radio. I’m not saying every exchange ended exactly like this, but I didn’t hang up on the other guy until I was sure he was going to hang up after his turn came.

But the only time I would have used “Roger, Wilco,” is if I was imitating Airplane.

We operate several radios with work, air-band VHF, marine VHF and also UHF and HF.

“Over and out” is defintely considered a (common) newbie mistake.

Think of it as like a telephone. “Over” means I’ve paused and am waiting for you to say something. “Out” means I’ve hung up the phone, you can’t say anymore because I’m no longer listening.

Normally our comms involve one party passing some info to the other party. The calling party is normally “driving” the conversation and so when they are finished they say “out.” If the conversation is not as clear cut then it is often ended something like this,

“Do you have anything further over?”
“Nothing further, [callsign] out.”

On the subject of “Romeo”, I have heard this used on marine frequencies (I’m pretty sure this topic has been discussed here before.)

Marge: [on radio] Husband on murderous rampage. Send help. Over.
Chief Wiggum: Whew, thank God that’s over.

Ooh! And it makes me cringe anytime I hear “All present and accounted for!” Hey, it’s either one or the other.

How often do you hear “Roger, F**k Y*u”?

Exactly. Military conversations are very one sided. You don’t use the radio to ‘chat’ with other units.

Either you’re reporting up the chain of command or the chain of command it passing orders down. (in simple terms)
When the person who started the conversation is done passing on the info, they end it.

‘Over and Out’ is as weird as Guiness with Lime.

It should be “All present OR accounted for,” since it’s possible to be absent and accounted for. However, the meaning of “All present and accounted for” means basically the same thing in common usage. “We know about the people who are here, and there are people who should be here but aren’t, but that’s okay because we know about them and where they are.”


From this link:

“Proword”, of course, is short for “procedural word”, an equivalent of “prosign” (“procedural sign”) in Morse code.

I don’t know about you Navy types, but in the Army it was either “All present” or “All accounted for.”