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During the late 1970s, a Royal Air Force "Belfast" strategic freighter approached on final to Chicago O'Hare. (What's a Belfast? Read on!) Callsign: "Ascot 1234."

Ascot 1234:
"Chicago tower, Ascot 1234."

Chicago:
"Ascot, say your aircraft type."

Ascot 1234:
"Ascot 1234 is a Belfast."

Chicago:
"Uhhh, what in heck's a Belfast, Ascot?"

Ascot 1234:
"It's a big 4-turboprop freighter bit like a pretty C-132."

Chicago:
"O.K., Ascot, you're cleared to continue behind the landing 737. Do you have that visual?"

Ascot 1234:
"Ascot 1234, affirmative to continue."

United 123:
"Chicago Tower, this is United 123."

Chicago:
"United 123 Chicago, you're cleared to continue behind the landing Belfast."

United 123:
"The landing what?"

Chicago:
"United 123, don't you know a Belfast when you see one?"

Chicago (and United) could be forgiven for not knowing what in heck a Belfast was: Only 10 were ever built. But we (53 Squadron, Royal Air Force) flew them all round the world, and we loved 'em ... .


Sean Maffett
via e-mail


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