2675: Pilot Priority List

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Pilot Priority List
CELEBRATE: Serve passengers tiered cakes shaped like the airspace class diagram
Title text: CELEBRATE: Serve passengers tiered cakes shaped like the airspace class diagram


The "ANC" Pilot Priority Checklist is a list of three guidelines, sorted by priority, that pilots should follow to prevent them from being distracted. Failing to follow it might make the aircraft crash or suffer other problems. As a mnemonic device, all the activities end in -ate.

  1. Aviate means keeping the aircraft in control. If the pilot fails to do this the aircraft might crash, so this should be the highest priority for the pilot.
  2. Navigate means knowing where you are and where you're going. Failing to follow this might make the aircraft go into restricted airspace, for example, make the journey take too long, or cause the flight to crash into terrain obscured by clouds.
  3. Communicate means talking with air traffic control (ATC) and your company's people through the radio. In the standard list, this is the lowest priority because talking through the radio might distract the pilot from other more important tasks.

By deferring less important activities until the prior need is deemed satisfied, the immediate dangers of flight into terrain (uncontrolled and controlled flight into terrain) are reduced — as the pilot's current circumstances allow — and yet can provide for addressing other hazards.

Randall humorously "extends" this standard list with other -ate checklist items that pilots could do if they're not too busy aviating, navigating and communicating. These extra tasks range from somewhat hilarious to physically impossible or dangerous; see the table below for explanations. These actions should generally not be taken, as they could distract the pilot and prevent them from reaching the cabin in case of an emergency, or vaporize everyone inside along with portions of the airframe.

Airspace classes in the United States

The title text adds another -ate item to the checklist: Celebrate, whereupon congratulatory cakes are served to the passengers. The "inverted tiers" refers to the airspace class diagram used in the United States, used by planes circling over airports. The class diagram starts with a small circle over the airport and then becomes wider in one or two steps at higher altitudes. When depicted graphically, this looks like an inverted tiered cake, as opposed to a regular tiered cake. Randall suggests that after having congratulated yourself for flying an aircraft, you could then celebrate by serving the passengers cakes in this inverted shape. It would, however, be unsuitable for an aircraft to serve cakes that are smaller at the bottom than at the top because of turbulence.

Table of extended priority items[edit]

Checklist item Description Explanation
Decorate Make the cockpit fancy Interior design of aircraft cockpits is usually starkly utilitarian and could conceivably benefit from enhancements if they aren't distracting. See for example this comparison of SpaceX and Boeing space capsule cockpits.
Accelerate See how fast you can go While pilots are often keenly interested in the extents of their aircraft flight capabilities, maximum speed is inefficient in jet aircraft, and probably best explored during testing rather than passenger flights. Exceeding VNE might even destroy an airplane, see [1]
Roller skate Zoom down the aisle Passengers would probably not appreciate this,[citation needed] although fellow crew members might be amused. Or possibly vice versa.
Exfoliate Scrub away dead skin Emery boards and pumice are used to prevent flaking and the development of calluses but dermatologists caution exfoliation is very often unnecessary and can have unwanted consequences. Volcanic ash has an exfoliating but unwelcome effect on aeroplanes.
Sublimate Turn directly into a vapor To the contrary, one of the most important duties of aircraft pilots is to prevent passengers and crew from vaporizing because the ANC checklist is impossible to perform in gaseous form.[citation needed]
Pollinate Fly low to stir up pollen Low-flying helicopters can assist in plant pollination,[2] and are offered as a commercial service by helicopter pilots. It is unlikely that airliners flying at much higher altitudes would be able to do the same, however.
Congratulate You're doing a good job flying a plane! This item suggests that the pilot should praise themself for "doing a good job flying a plane", when ironically, if they did all of the above items, they would not be doing a good job of this.
Celebrate (title text) Serve passengers tiered cakes shaped like the airspace class diagram See discussion of the title text above.


[A list with ten numbered points are shown. Above the list is a large header. Below this is a divided line with a section header written in a smaller than standard font. The three first numbered points are below this. Then follows another divided line with section header written in smaller font and below this the next seven numbered points. All ten points have two lines of text. A line with a normal sized font and below each of these a description in a smaller light gray font.]
Pilot Priority List
-----------Standard section-----------
1. Aviate
Maintain control of the aircraft
2. Navigate
Figure out where you're going
3. Communicate
Stay in touch with ATC and others
-----------Extended section-----------
4. Decorate
Make the cockpit fancy
5. Accelerate
See how fast you can go
6. Roller skate
Zoom down the aisle
7. Exfoliate
Scrub away dead skin
8. Sublimate
Turn directly to a vapor
9. Pollinate
Fly low to stir up pollen
10. Congratulate
You're doing a good job flying a plane!

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Who else googled 'words ending with ate' and had an extra chuckle at what could have been? My favorites: circumnavigate, excommunicate, disarticulate. 05:08, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

I was disappointed not to see 'conjugate' on the list. Angel (talk) 09:16, 22 September 2022 (UTC)
Not to mention 'copulate'. I guess he wanted to keep it G-rated. Barmar (talk) 14:10, 22 September 2022 (UTC)
On the top of my list would be "Procrastinate": Attending to all other tasks in reverse order. Mumiemonstret (talk) 11:13, 3 October 2022 (UTC)
"Deliberate": Think about what to do next. 20:58, 13 October 2022 (UTC)

How about 'exterminate'? MarquisOfCarrabass (talk) 05:13, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

Only if the pilot is a Dalek. (talk) 14:12, 27 September 2022 (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
My thoughts exactly! (Note: I moved your signature up) Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 07:19, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

What categories does this kind of list belong in. I guess Randall has made similar lists before? Should there be a category for this kind of comics, that do not easily belong in any other. I added Food category because of the cake, but that was just for the title text... Also if anyone has a better link to a good picture of a layered cake, as the one currently in the title text explanation please add that. But it is a good picture resembling the airspace diagram inverted very much --Kynde (talk) 08:53, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

I can see that for instance this comic with a list, 1957: 2018 CVE List, has been added to the Category:Charts. In that case this comic should also, but to me this is not really a chart. Maybe a Category:Lists would work? Should it be "lists" rather than "list"? Not native English speaker. --Kynde (talk) 08:56, 22 September 2022 (UTC)
(On List/Lists, yes, I would say Category:Lists would be a categorical list of all lists. Any such Category:List would be appropriate if a particular list (henceforth "it's that list again!") has multiple appearances (perhaps in rationed fractions, like the "things not to do" one) across comics that thus need to be categorised. If that ever happens though then the List might be better "Category:The List", leaving room for The Other List, A Further Different List, all those categories maybe needing to be added to a category of all "List"s (which of course qualifies them for being under "Lists"), but we'll cross those bridges if we come to them. :P ) 14:10, 22 September 2022 (UTC)
Other list comics (Feel free to add to mine without signature):
2525: Air Travel Packing List
1011: Baby Names
1957: 2018 CVE List
887: Future Timeline

Afterate - enjoy a waffer-thin mint. 09:07, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

Does anybody else get "list of achievements" vibes from this? it shares many features like simple names, descriptions etc. Mushrooms (talk) 10:10, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

Instead of ANC it's ANCDARESPC 12:40, 22 September 2022 (UTC)Bumpf

As for Categories, this is definitely Aviation related and a List. So, most of things that 1937:_IATA_Airport_Abbreviations qualifies for, should also apply to this one. Nutster (talk) 13:43, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

Created Category:Aviation. Natg19 (talk) 23:05, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

Am I the only one who thought about the INXS video "Mediate"? https://youtu.be/Pr-Vfnd7Yno Shamino (talk) 17:21, 22 September 2022 (UTC)

Definitely not. I came here to check for this. Kind of disappointed that this is the only comment to that effect (and also disappointed that Mr. Munro missed the opportunity.) 04:04, 23 September 2022 (UTC)
Like the above poster, I specifically came here to check for references to the INXS song.

Agitate - put protest signs on the cockpit door 11:03, 23 September 2022 (UTC)

Way at the absolute bottom of the list should be Autodefenestrate - the act of throwing oneself out a window. -MeZimm 00:03, 24 September 2022 (UTC)

This comment is to memorialize "our" (explainxkcd's) supposed "ELUCIDATE, EXPLICATE, ANNOTATE, DEMONSTRATE, CITATE AND ILLUSTRATE CHECKLIST" for after the incomplete tag gets removed. Should we add a Trivia-level section after the Transcript for it? Or put it in the Editors' FAQ? 02:06, 24 September 2022 (UTC)

This explanation needs an actual picture of the "upside down wedding cake" airspace class diagrams referred to in the titletext. Like this: https://www.faasafety.gov/files/gslac/FTB/Airspace/Airspace%20Chart.jpgScs (talk) 03:31, 24 September 2022 (UTC)

🗸 ILLUSTRATEd. 05:42, 24 September 2022 (UTC)

Why are complex airspace classes tiered instead of coned? 08:43, 24 September 2022 (UTC)

So you don't have to do trigonometry to figure out if you're in the wrong place. 09:46, 24 September 2022 (UTC)
Well, trig isn't really needed for "if x-thousand feet away from (focal point/boundary) at height y, where x=ny" (n could even be 1). Trig isn't even really needed if you're sighting the angle between the horizon and the beacon at the apex of the cone and without needing to know your altitide need to know that once the declination is beyond a given amount that you're in the controlled-cone.
But as much flight is horizontal within broad bands (save for deliberate ascending/descending) and altitude is actually supposed to be something you're very aware of at least within a hundred feet or so, you might as well just know that "lower than Level A, the radius to know about is A', or above that but lower than Level B it is B', ...etc". This can be represented on flat charts/on-screen displays much easier as nested/concentric/etc boundaries 'of interest', without any of the complexity of a 2519: Sloped Border situation. 19:35, 24 September 2022 (UTC)

Perhaps overly literal, but some of these "lower-priority" items might actually be of interest to real pilots. It's impossible to take off without accelerating, for one. For another, pilots do sometimes broadcast congratulatory messages, which is nice but would certainly be of a lower priority than aviating, navigating and communicating. Finally, occasions such as public holidays or the founding of the airline are sometimes celebrated aboard airliners, and would naturally be announced to the passengers by the captain - although having the pilot leave the cockpit and join in the celebrations might be a cause for alarm.[citation needed] 06:53, 27 September 2022 (UTC)

educate: teach the passengers how to fly a plane. Sci09273.15 (talk) 18:53, 15 May 2023 (UTC)

How did Randall forget "pontificate"‽