BY WARD CARROLL – WEARETHEMIGHTY.COM
If you’ve ever hung out with military aviators (or watched movies like “Top Gun” or “Iron Eagle”) you know they tend to use a lot of strange lingo when they talk, even when they’re out of the cockpit. Trying to hold a conversation with them can be tough — until now. WATM presents this handy list of fighter speak that will help keep that social interaction going, which is important because fighter guys have a lot of wisdom to put out and it would be a shame if it got lost in translation.
So here’s the gouge . . . er, here you go:
U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Greg Linderman
Altitude in thousand of feet. (“Angels 3” is 3,000 feet.)
Altitude in hundreds of feet. (“Cherubs 3” is 300 feet.)
An air-to-air right side view of a Soviet MiG-31 Foxhound aircraft.
A known bad guy.
Joe Stephens, YouTube
An unknown radar contact.
If a piece of gear is inop it is “bent.” (“Giantkiller, be advised my radar is bent.”)
Low fuel status or direction to head for the divert field. (“Lobo is bingo fuel,” or “Ghostrider, your signal is bingo.”)
Wingman not in sight.
Change to a later time, either minutes or hours depending on the context. (“Delta 10 on your recovery time” means the jet is now scheduled to land 10 minutes later.)
Push the throttles to their forward limit. (“I had that bitch firewalled, and I still couldn’t get away from that SAM ring.”)
Direction to go as fast as possible. (“Diamondback, your signal is buster to mother.”)
Exit a dogfight rapidly. (“Gucci is on the bug.”)
Air Force ordies load a training GBU (recognizable by its blue color). (U.S. Air Force photo)
An indication that the airplane is loaded weapons-wise according to the mission order. (“Devil 201 is on station as fragged.”)
A pilot who’s an easy kill in a dogfight.
Radar warning gear without indication of a missile threat.
15. “Punch out”
To eject from an airplane.
U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso
Return to base. (“Big Eye, Eagle 301 is RTB.”)
Um, not that “spike.” The real “spiked” is an indication of a missile threat on the radar warning receiver. (“Rooster has an SA-6 spike at three o’clock.”)
Enemy in sight (as opposed to “visual,” which means friendly in sight). (“Nuke is tally two bandits, four o’clock low.”)
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mary O’Dell
Either a label for the tanker or direction to go to the tanker. (“Gypsy, Texaco is at your one o’clock for three miles, level,” or “Gypsy, your signal is Texaco.”)
20. “Nose hot/cold”
Usually used around the tanker pattern, an indication that the radar is or isn’t transmitting.
Wingnut Wick, YouTube
The condensation cloud created when an airplane pulls a lot of Gs. (“Man, I came into the break and was vaping like a big dog.”)
Wingman (or other friendly) in sight (as opposed to “tally,” which means enemy in sight). (“Weezer, you got me?” “Roger, Weezer is visual.”)
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Becker
Out of weapons. (“Tomcat 102 is winchester and RTB.”)
Bonus 1. “G-LOC”
Alexandre Fernandes da Silva, YouTube
“G-induced loss of consciousness.” (Not good when at the controls of a fighter traveling at high speed at low altitude.)
Bonus 2. “The Funky Chicken”
Alexandre Fernandes da Silva, YouTube
“The Funky Chicken” is what aviators call the involuntary movements that happen during G-LOC.
Ward is a retired Naval Aviator, novelist, and military commentator. He was the editor of Military.com for nine years before joining We Are The Mighty as editor-in-chief in September of 2014.
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