‘India Foxtrot’ Riddle: Answer to the Viral Status Explained

India Foxtrot

Getty A new riddle is on social media

A new riddle trending on social media consists of a long status update that starts with the words “India Foxtrot.” The status ends with asking who understands what the random words mean and can follow the instructions. Read on to learn more about this riddle and see the answer.

The long status you’ll see on social media sites like Facebook reads: “India foxtrot. Yankee oscar uniform. Charlie alpha november. Uniform november delta echo romeo sierra tango alpha november delta. Tango hotel india sierra. Charlie oscar papa yankee. Alpha november delta. Papa alpha sierra tango echo. Tango oscar. Yankee oscar uniform romeo. Sierra tango alpha tango uniform sierra.”

Then the status typically ends with a call to action like: “Let’s see who gets it and follows the instructions” or simply “Let’s play.” 

Are you ready for the answer? It’s listed below.


Here’s the Answer to the Riddle

The answer to the riddle is actually pretty simple. Just take the first letter of each word in the status to read the meaning and instruction. 

By doing so, you get the following: “If you can understand this copy and paste to your status.”

It’s that simple. Once you decipher the status, just copy and paste it to your own status and add something to the end like: “Let’s see who gets it and follows the instructions.”

The Volunteer Police Cadets-National Page shared the riddle in early April and got a lot of replies. Many people understood right away and enjoyed the riddle.

The riddle uses the NATO phonetic alphabet for the solution (which is used by many military organizations too, which is why you might see it referred to as the military alphabet.) You simply take the first letter of every word and use it to form a sentence. The words used in the riddle are the 26 code words in the NATO phonetic alphabetic. The alphabet is also known as Radiotelephony. The 26 words are: A (Alpha), B (Bravo), C (Charlie), D (Delta), E (Echo), F (Foxtrot), G (Golf), H (Hotel), I (India), J (Juliett), K (Kilo), L (Lima), M (Mike), N (November), O (Oscar), P (Pap), Q (Quebec), R (Romeo), S (Sierra), T (Tango), U (Uniform), V (Victor), W (Whiskey), X (X-ray), Y (Yankee), and Z (Zulu.)

The words are often used to avoid confusion when spelling something out, since some letters can sound very similar when spoken out loud (like “f” and “s” or “m” and “n,” for example.)


History of the Phonetic Alphabet

There’s actually a long history that led up to the common use of the particular words found in the riddle and in the phonetic alphabet. The ICAO noted about the alphabet’s early history:

It is interesting to note that the first internationally recognized phonetic alphabet was adopted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)  Radio Conference in 1927 and was for use by the maritime mobile service; such alphabet assigns code words to each letter of the alphabet (i.e. Alfa for A, Bravo for B, etc.), so that critical combinations of letters (and numbers) can be pronounced and understood by those who transmit and receive voice messages by radio or telephone regardless of their native language, especially when the safety of navigation or persons is essential. The experience gained with that alphabet resulted in several changes being made by the 1932 Radio Conference of ITU. The resulting alphabet was adopted by the International Commission for Air Navigation (ICAN), the predecessor of ICAO, and was used in civil aviation until World War II.”

In World War II, an alternative Able Baker alphabet was adopted, ICAO reported. But the second session of the ICAO Communications Division noted that some of the words in that alphabet were associated only with English, so an alternative Ana/Brazil alphabet was approved for specific regions. In 1947, IATA submitted a proposed single universal alphabet. After much consultation, a new ICAO alphabet was adopted, but new problems were found with that too. In 1952, the ICAO re-examined the alphabet with the help of member governments. The original alphabet was found to be best, with just five words changed to what we have today.

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