I can't say anything about authenticity, but here is a quote

Tower: “Delta Zulu Romeo, turn right now and report your heading.” Pilot: “Wilco. 341, 342, 343, 344, 345…”

Is such an instruction even allowed? And if so, what should the pilot's response be?

  • $\begingroup$ Similar, but real life: was once told to "continue present heading" while in a 25-deg bank right turn ... $\endgroup$
    – Radu094
    Sep 26, 2020 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ so why did i get downvoted $\endgroup$
    – Abdullah
    Sep 26, 2020 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ again, can the downvoter explain the issue? $\endgroup$
    – Abdullah
    Sep 27, 2020 at 11:34

1 Answer 1


The title of the website (Aviation Humor) should give you a hint. It is a joke!

However, there are a few similar situations, one of which is a pilot requesting a turn to avoid weather. That could go something like this:

Pilot: ABC123 request right turn to avoid

ATC: ABC123 right turn approved, report new heading

Pilot: Approved, WILCO, ABC123

Pilot: ABC123 now heading 120

Though normally, the pilot will give a rough estimate of how much they need to turn ("Request right turn 20 degrees to avoid").

Another example is ATC giving a pilot a relative heading change, and asking the pilot to report the actual heading.

ATC: ABC123 turn right by 10 degrees, report new heading

Pilot: Right by 10 degrees, heading 250, ABC123

The reason ATC doesn't just give the target heading to the pilot directly is that in many cases ATC does not know the heading of a flight - only the track. In cases with strong wind especially, the heading and track may differ significantly.

ATC can also tell a pilot to turn without giving a target heading, during non-gyro operations (compass gyro inoperative, so pilot does not know his heading). But in that case, the pilot will not respond (so you won't be hearing "341, 342, 343..."). ATC will then time the turn, knowing that a standard turn is 3 degrees per second.

ATC: ABC123 make all turns rate 1, start and stop all turns on the word NOW.

ATC: ABC123 turn left NOW.

(wait for a specific number of seconds)

ATC: ABC123 stop turn NOW.

  • $\begingroup$ Well, I was thinking they wouldn't just make "quotes" up....... $\endgroup$
    – Abdullah
    Sep 26, 2020 at 8:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Abdullah Even if it is a real quote from some prankster, doesn't mean it's approved phraseology. In any case, don't trust everything you read on the internet! $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2020 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ Exactly my point in asking $\endgroup$
    – Abdullah
    Sep 26, 2020 at 8:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've also gotten "turn right 10 degrees and say new heading," sometimes followed by another aircraft also being assigned the heading that I just reported. Thus, they & I are now on parallel tracks, 10 degrees off of what had been my direct course to (whatever waypoint I was navigating to). $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Sep 26, 2020 at 11:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ True, that's probably the most obvious case actually $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2020 at 11:25

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