View Full Version : squawk - squawk?? - squawk!!!

15th Sep 2002, 18:36
Hi historians!!

I am on it again! IFR helicopter!!! I hold an IFR rating for privat stiff wing, however thatīs 12 years ago without any IFR since.
So it is basically all once more. This time I am taking it slow and read every word in the book.

We all know if someone says:"squawk--------this or that" it is always/mainly in connection with the transponder.

ASAīs "The Pilotīs Manual" - Instrument Flying, Text Book says:--
The term "squawk" that is commonly used by ATC in connection with transponder operation is basically intended to mean "transmit".-- (I hope I donīt start any copyright issues here...:D )

Okay, here we have it what it means!

Anyone knows where the expression "SQUAWK" comes from?


15th Sep 2002, 20:42
During WWII the British developed a radar transceiver. It would respond to a radar interrogating signal by responding with a coded transmission. A code would allow the land based radar station to distinguish British from German aircraft on their radar screen. The radio also contained an internal thermite bomb which, when triggered by an inertial switch (crash), would destroy the interior of the set. This was supposed to prevent German discovery of the codes. The British code named the system Parrot. The United States Army Air Forces version of the system was called IFF, for Identification Friend or Foe.

To control the operation of the airborne coded set to the best advantage, the ground based radar station would radio instructions regarding the operation of "Parrot". The aircraft would be directed to "squawk your parrot", meaning to turn on the set for identification; or to "strangle (not kill) your parrot" as a directive for turning the set off. The power of the transponder signal would often hide other targets.

The only vestige of this that remains today, other than the entire ATC system itself, is the term "Squawk", as an ATC directive for operation or code for the transponder. Old time ATC controllers may still have you "strangle" your parrot (x-ponder)

henry crun
15th Sep 2002, 23:39
Not long after WW2 an American transport aircraft was inbound to the UK.

An RAF radar station asked the pilot "do you have Parrot on board ?".
There was a long pause and then came the reply " No sir, but we have a bird colonel if he's any use to you".

16th Sep 2002, 04:35
Thanks ORAC,

for the quick reply!