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A Delta pilot mistakenly went to the wrong taxiway, then unleashed fury on air-traffic control

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With all the scary aviation incidents recently, this story out of the world’s busiest airport might be amusing if it weren’t just slightly horrifying.

An audio clip of a bizarre verbal altercation between a pilot and an air-traffic controller who manages planes on the taxiways at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was released on the Web site on Sunday.

In the clip, an unnamed Delta Airlines pilot on Flight 2422 was supposed to take his plane to a taxiway called “Mike” but apparently went to the “Lima” taxiway instead. When the air-traffic controller brought the mistake to the pilot’s attention, massive attitude ensued.

“Looks like you joined Lima,” the controller said.

“Hey, you know what, we’ll taxi out there any way we want unless you tell us to; I don’t like your attitude,” the pilot replied.

Unfazed, the air-traffic controller continued communicating calmly with the pilot, who didn’t reciprocate the goodwill.

“I don’t have an attitude, sir; I’m just saying it looks like you joined Lima instead of Mike and I’m just trying to correct you before you stay on Lima,” the air-traffic controller responded.

“Like oh my God, there’s another plane out there, like six miles away,” the pilot said. “Your attitude is really something sir. We’re out here on Mike. Good morning.”

“Good morning,” the air-traffic controller continued. “There was no attitude. I was just trying to correct you. That’s my job to correct you if you mess up, and make sure everybody’s doing what I ask them to do for certain reasons.”

“All right, I make a mistake every two to three minutes but my attitude is not like yours,” the pilot said. “We’re out on Mike and you didn’t tell us how to get there, so next time you can try doing that.”

Listen to the exchange beginning around 1:50:

Alrighty then.

Overhearing the tense exchange, another pilot promptly chimed in: “Settle down, Captain Happy.”

The incident occurred on Friday, and Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, said in a statement that it’s investigating.

“While customer safety and service were never in question, we are looking further into this exchange,” the airline said. “Delta’s values call for courtesy and professionalism in everything we do.”

CORRECTION: This post originally said the plane was on the wrong runway; it was on the wrong taxiway.

Abby Phillip is a national political reporter for the Washington Post. She can be reached at On Twitter: @abbydphillip

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