Ok nugget, kick the tires, light the fires,
select Zone 5, tag the bogey
but don’t get in a furball.
Don’t boresight, check six,
bingo to Mom — Got it?


Aviator Slang

Yes, military pilots really do talk this way! This is not an all-inclusive list of military acronyms, just the type of lingo you’re apt to hear in the Ready-Room, on the flightline, or in the aircraft.

|A|B|C|D|E|F|G|H|I|J|K|L|M|N|O|P|Q|R|S|T|U|V|W|X|Y|Z|

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A — “Alfa”

AAA
Anti-aircraft Artillery. Rapid-firing cannon or machine guns, often aimed by computers and radar.

ACM
Air Combat Maneuvering, or dogfighting.

Admiral’s Doorbell
The yellow button in an F/A-18 cockpit that jettisons all the external stores in an emergency. If you hit it, you’ll be “ringing the admiral's doorbell” to explain why.

AGL
Above Ground Level. An airplane’s altimeter reads height above Mean Sea Level (MSL), the more realistic measurement over land is height Above Ground Level. Most military aircraft have a radar-altimeter, which reads aircraft height above ground level.

Air Boss
Head of the Air Department on board a carrier; he rules the flight deck.

Air Wing
The entire complement of aircraft fielded by the carrier in battle: fighters, attack jets, early-warning planes, tankers, helicopters, antisubmarine patrol craft, etc.

Alert 5
A manned aircraft can launch within five minutes. The Navy has time restrictions as to how long a crew can stand an Alert-5 watch. Similarly, Alert 15, Alert 30, Alert 60.

Aluminum Cloud
The F-14 is so large that it is sometimes referred to by this term.

Angels
Altitude, measured in thousands of feet (“angels fifteen” means 15,000 feet above sea level). Also, a term lovingly ascribed to the rescue helicopter by any aviator who has experienced an ejection and subsequent helicopter rescue.

Anti-Smash
Aircraft strobe, or anti-collision, lights.

Angle of Attack (AOA)
Angle of the wing relative to the forward flight path of the airplane. On any aircraft, too great an angle of attack will cause the wing to stop flying (stall), as airflow across the upper surface is disrupted.

Angles
Gaining angles on a dogfight opponent involves maneuvering for a shot from astern. The ultimate in an angles fight is an angle of zero — straight up the enemy’s tailpipe.

AOM
All Officer’s Meeting. A vehicle that Commanding Officers use to keep Junior Officers in a central location for a given amount of time to keep them from screwing up his (or her ) command tour.

ASW
Anti-submarine warfare.

Atoll, Apex, Acrid
NATO code names for Soviet-manufactured air-to-air missiles.

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B — “Bravo”

B/N
Bombardier-navigator; the specific term for the NFO in the A-6 aircraft.

“Back to the Taxpayers”
Where you send a wrecked aircraft.

Bag
Flight suit or anti-exposure suit (“Put on a bag”); as a verb — to collect or acquire: as in, “bag some traps.”

Bag Season
Cold weather or water conditions which require the wearing of anti-exposure gear; which is very restrictive, uncomfortable and unpopular

Bagger
An aviator who manages to obtain more traps or flight time than his squadron mates, usually through dubious means.

Ball
An amber visual landing aid that the pilot uses to adjust aircraft-relative position to a desired final approach glideslope. The primary optical landing device on the carrier.

Bandit
Dogfight adversary positively identified as a bad guy. Hostile aircraft.

Basement
Hangar deck of the aircraft carrier.

Bat Decoder
A sheet of paper carried on all fight operations that is the key to current airborne communication codes.

Bat-turn
A tight, high-G change of heading. A reference to the rapid 180-degree Batmobile maneuver in the old Batman television series.

Beaded Up
Worried or excited.

Behind the Power Curve
Not keeping up with expectations. Technically, any airspeed less than that for the maximum lift-to-drag ratio, which is that portion of the power curve (a graphical plot of engine power vs. aircraft speed) at which the aircraft requires more power to go slower in steady level flight.

Bent
Damaged or broken.

Big Mother
That beautiful butt-ugly H-3 Navy helo that fishes you out of the drink.

Bingo
Minimum fuel for a comfortable and safe return to base. Aircraft can fly and fight past bingo fuel in combat situations, but at considerable peril.

Bingo Field
Land-based runway to which carrier aircraft can divert if necessary.

Birds
Aircraft

Blower
Afterburner.

Blue-Water Ops
Carrier flight operations beyond the reach of land bases or bingo fields.

Boards Out
Speed brakes extended

Boat
Any Navy ship regardless of size. The aircraft carrier is “THE Boat.”

Bogey
Unidentified and potentially hostile aircraft.

Bohica
Bend over, here it comes again.

Bolt, Bolter
A carrier landing attempt in which the tailhook fails to engage any of the arresting wires, requiring a “go-around,” and in which the aircraft landing gear contacts the deck. Otherwise it is a “low pass.”

Boola-Boola
Radio call made when a pilot shoots down a drone.

Booming
Loud, raucous partying (“we were booming last night”); or, fast, exciting flying (“we went booming through the mountains”).

Boondoggle
A great deal, usually obtained at the expense of others. (“Shack is a bagger. That guy went on a coast-to-coast boondoggle cross-country with the skipper, even though we’re almost out of OPTAR for this quarter.”)

Boresight
Technically, to line up the axis of a gun with its sights, but pilots use the term to describe concentrating on a small detail to the point of causing some detriment to the “big picture.”

BOREX
A dull, repetitive exercise (a busy, tense one might be a SWEATEX).

Bought the Farm
Died. Originated from the practice of the government reimbursing farmers for crops destroyed due to aviation accidents on their fields. The farmers, knowing a good thing when they see it, would inflate the value of lost crops to the point that, in effect, the mishap pilot “bought the farm.” Student pilots regularly practice emergency landings to farmer’s fields. (This one term must have a bazillion different origins judging from the amount of “corrections” I’ve received. I still like this one - ed.)

Bounce, Tap
Unexpected attack on another aircraft.

Brain Housing Group
Mock-technical term for the skull.

Bravo Zulu
Praise for a good job.

Bubbas
Fellow squadron members; anyone who flies the same aircraft as you do.

Bumping
ACM (Air Combat Maneuvering), also called “bumping heads.”

BuNo
Bureau number, the permanent serial number that the Navy assigns to an aircraft when it is built.

Burner
Afterburner; a system that feeds raw fuel into a jet’s hot exhaust, thus greatly increasing both thrust and fuel consumption.

Buster
Controller term for full military power: to hurry up, go as fast as possible.

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C — “Charlie”

CAG
Commander of the air group (coined in the pre-1962 days when they were called air groups — now they’re called air wings) — the carrier’s chief pilot.

Carqual, or CQ
Carrier qualification; a set number of carrier takeoffs and landings required in training and at periodic intervals of all carrier flight crews.

Cat Shot
A carrier takeoff assisted by a steam-powered catapult. A “cold cat,” one in which insufficient launch pressure has been set into the device, can place the hapless aircraft in the water. A “hot cat” — too much pressure — is less perilous, but can rip out the nose wheel assembly or the launching bridle. Once a pair of common problems, but practically unheard of today.

CAVU
Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited: the best possible flying weather.

CEP
Circular Error Probable. The average “miss” distance of ordnance hits from a given aim point, such as a target bulls-eye.

Centurion
An aviator who has made 100 shipboard landings on one carrier, typically a centurion patch is then issued and proudly worn on the flight jacket.

Charlie
The planned landing time aboard a carrier.

Charlie Foxtrot
Phonetics for “cluster-f%*k”

Check Six
Visual observation of the rear quadrant, from which most air-to-air attacks can be expected. Refers to the clock system of scanning the envelope around the aircraft; 12 o’clock is straight ahead, 6 o’clock is directly astern. Also a common salutation and greeting among tactical pilots. Keep an eye on your behind, be careful.

Checking for Light Leaks
Taking a nap, referring to the eyelids

Cherubs
Altitude under 1,000 feet, measured in hundreds of feet (“cherubs two” means 200 feet).

Cold Nose
Radar turned off, also known as “Lights out,” (Navy pilots transmit “My nose is cold” before refueling from Air Force tankers).

COD
Carrier On-Board Delivery aircraft, used to transfer personnel and cargo to and from the carrier.

Colorful Actions
Flathatting, showing off, or otherwise ignoring safe procedures while flying.

Combat Dump
A bowel movement before flying; also called “sending an Marine to sea”

Cones
Students, short for coneheads: also called nurkin heads, or studs.

Conning
Making contrails.

Contract
Agreements and ground rules, some minor and some life-threatening, between two-man fighter crews or between wingmen.

Crossdeck Pendant
An arresting wire on an aircraft carrier; or the attaching cord between a VertRep helicopter to its externally slung cargo.

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D — “Delta”

Dash Two
The second plane in a two-or-more aircraft formation; the wingman.

Deck Spotter
Derogatory term for a pilot who looks away from the ball to peek at the deck.

Delta
When an aircraft arrives at a boat for recovery, this instruction tells the pilot to stay clear and save gas; refers to a holding pattern at the boat.

Delta Sierra
Phonetics for “dumb shit”: describes a stupid action, and erases all previous Bravo Zulus and Sierra Hotels.

Departure
Literally departure from controlled flight, usually brought on in high-performance jets by excessive angle of attack coupled with partial power loss in one engine. All aircraft depart differently, but some anxious moments and some loss of altitude will result before control can be regained. Some jets, most notably the F-4 Phantom, are unrecoverable from certain departures.

Dirty
Aircraft configured for landing with gear and flaps down.

Dot
Refers to how a distant aircraft looks on the horizon, (“I’m a dot” means “I’m out of here”).

Double Ugly
Fond nickname for the enormously capable but less than beautiful F-4 Phantom. See also Rhino.

Double Nuts
The CAG’s bird usually numbered 100 or 00.

Down
Broken, not flying. A sick pilot is “down.”

Downtown
From the 1960s song by Petula Clark, meaning any enemy target area where lots of anti-aircraft opposition can be expected. During the Vietnam War, flying missions into the Hanoi-Haiphong complex in North Vietnam, which was defended by multiple SAM and conventional AAA sites, was referred to as “Going Downtown.”

Drift Factor
If you have a high one, you aren’t reliable.

Driver
Pilot.

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E — “Echo”

Echo Range
A corner of the China Lake Naval Weapons Test Center outfitted with ground targets and electronic threat simulators. Many Top Gun training sessions are flown over Echo Range.

ECM
Electronic Countermeasures; systems for jamming or misleading enemy weapons, communications, and radar.

Electric Jet
The F-16 Fighting Falcon, so nicknamed because of its fly-by-wire controls.

ELINT
Electronic Intelligence; the gathering of electronic emissions related to communications, weapons control, or reconnaissance.

Envelope
The maximum performance parameters of an aircraft; flying at the edge of the envelope can be both exciting and dangerous.

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F — “Foxtrot”

FAG
Fighter Attack Guy; derogatory term for F/A-18 Hornet drivers.

Fangs Out
When a pilot is really hot for a dogfight.

Fangs Sunk in Floorboard
When a fighter pilot boresights on a kill but ends up getting shot himself.

FARP
Fleet ACM Readiness Program; a periodic training program presented in the context of the Fleet Air Wing; dogfighting practice with an adversary squadron.

FASO
Flight Physiology Training: recurrent safety training for aircrews directed at emphasizing physiological stressors, conditions, or episodes which might be encountered in flight.

FAST
Fleet Air Superiority Training.

Father
Slang term for shipboard TACAN station. There is a Father on most Mothers.

Feet Wet/Dry
The former means “over-water,” the latter “over-land.”

Fishbed, Flogger
Also Fitter, Flanker, Fresco Fulcrum, etc. NATO code names for Russian fighter aircraft.

Flathatting
Unauthorized low-level flying and stunting--thrilling, sometimes fatal, usually career-ending if caught.

Flare
The nose-up landing posture normal for most land-based aircraft. Carrier jets eliminate flare in favor of a slamming contact with the deck. Also the terminal portion of a helicopter autorotation in which rotor speed can be accelerated while reducing rate-of-descent and forward groundspeed.

Fly-by-wire
Electronic, computer-controlled operation of aircraft control surfaces. Supplants mechanical/hydraulic actuation common in earlier jets. The F-16 Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet, and the French Mirage 2000 use these systems.

FM

Abbreviation for “f*cking magic”: very high-tech; used to describe how something you don’t understand actually works. The ASQ-8 1 Magnetic Anomaly System works by “FM.”

FOD
Foreign Object Damage. A constant concern on airfields and carrier decks where jet engines operate. Jet intakes can ingest loose objects, and even the smallest item — a rock, a bolt — can seriously damage jet turbine blades.

Fox One, Fox Two, Fox Three
Radio calls indicating the firing of a Sparrow, Sidewinder, or Phoenix air-to-air missile, respectively.

Fur ball
A confused aerial engagement with many combatants. Several aircraft in tight ACM.

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G — “Golf”

G. G-loading, G-rating
High-performance aircraft subject airframes and occupants to centrifugal forces far beyond simple gravity. One-G equals normal gravity; a pilot and plane pulling 4-Gs in a turn will feel forces equal to four times the weight of gravity.

G-suit
Nylon trousers that wrap around the legs and abdomen. Filled automatically with compressed air in high-G maneuvers, the G-suit helps prevent the pooling of blood in the lower extremities, thus retarding the tendency to lose consciousness. Also known as “speedjeans.”

Gaff Off
Ignore.

Gate
Afterburner. see also Zone

Gigahertz and Nanoseconds
Highly technical, detailed, and hard to understand (“It’s getting down to gigahertz and nanoseconds.”)

Gizmo
A piece of technical gear (also doodad, thingamabob, or hog-ha)

Glove
The huge wing root of the F-14 Tomcat, housing the mechanism for moving the variable-geometry wings. Also, Tom Cruise notwithstanding, fireproof gloves are always worn by military pilots regardless of the outside temperature.

Go Juice
Jet fuel or coffee.

god
The authority, boss, or person with full responsibility; also descriptive of a pilot’s prowess (“He’s an ACM god”)

Goes Away
What something does when you hit it with a missile.

Gomer
Slang for a dogfight adversary, the usage stemming from the old Gomer Pyle television show.

Goo
Bad weather that makes it impossible to see; in the clouds.

Goon Up
Screw up.

Gouge
The latest inside information. Also the poop, the skinny. A summary of important information.

Green Apple
The control knob for the cockpit’s emergency oxygen supply.

Greenie Board
Prominently displayed squadron scoreboard where the landing signal officers rate the pilots’ carrier landings (any color other than green is bad ). Also called the “weenie board.”

Gripe
A mechanical problem on an aircraft. An “up” gripe means you can still fly, a “down” gripe means you can’t.

Gut Bomb
Any of the (limited) variety of single-handed culinary delights found in the wardrooms or mess decks on the boat.

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H — “Hotel”

Hamburger Helper
The bombardier-navigator (B/N) or radar intercept officer (RIO).

Hangar Queen
An aircraft that suffers chronic “downs”; hangar queens are often pirated for spares for the squadron’s other aircraft, so when the aircraft leave the carrier at the end of the cruise, the maintenance officer normally flies the hangar queen because he knows which parts have been taken (the “queen’s” ejection seats are especially well preflighted).

Hard Deck
An established minimum altitude for training engagements. Early Topgun hops honor a 10,000-foot AGL hard deck.

Hawk Circle
The orbiting stack of aircraft waiting to land on the carrier.

Head on a Swivel
Keeping an eye peeled for an ACM adversary; also called “doing the Linda Blair,” for the 360-degree head rotation in the movie The Exorcist.

Heater
Sidewinder missile which homes in on heat sources.

Helo
Universal Navy/Marine term for helicopter. Don’t say “chopper” unless you’re hanging out with the Army.

High PRF
Extremely excitable (PRF is a radar term: pulse repetition frequency).

High Warble
Unduly agitated.

Hinge Head
Slang term for O-4s (LCDR). Legend has it that whenever a lieutenant makes lieutenant commander, he is given a lobotomy and half his brain is removed. A hinge is then installed so the brain half may be reinstalled later (or, in some cases, the other half is also removed).

Hop
A mission, or flight

Hook Slap
When the tailhook of an aircraft landing on a carrier strikes the rounddown.

HOTAS
Hands On Throttle And Stick. Modern fighters have every imaginable control function mounted on either the stick (right hand) or the throttle quadrant (left hand), so that the pilot need not fumble around in the cockpit.

HUD
Heads Up Display. A transparent screen mounted on the dashboard on which pertinent data from flight instruments and weapons systems are projected.The HUD eliminates the need to look down into the cockpit to read instruments.

Hummer
Any ingenious machine — plane, car, or weapon — whose actual name can’t be recalled. Also “puppy,’ “bad boy.” The E-2 Hawkeye early-warning aircraft is also nicknamed “Hummer,” in reference to the sound of its turboprop engines.

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I — “India”

IFR
Instrument Flight Rules, permitting safe flight in conditions of limited visibility

Indian Night Noises
The ominous creaks, pops, and shudders of an aircraft in flight

In-Flight Engagement
Snagging the arresting wire before the wheels touch the deck. This can result in damage to the aircraft.

In the Spaghetti
Where you catch the wires.

INS
Inertial Navigation System. A device that, when properly loaded and aligned, permits the pilot to determine his location anywhere on earth within a few hundred feet.

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J — “Juliet”

Jink
To maneuver violently to avoid a threat.

JO
Junior officer, usually with all the answers.

JO Bunkroom
The JO stateroom, where all the good parties are aboard The Boat

JOPA
Junior Officer Protective Association. The O-3s (lieutenants) and below in a unit that band together for mutual protection. Sometimes called JORC (Junior Officer Retaliation Corps).

JORP
Junior Officer Rest Period. What they do best.

Jock, Driver
Pilot, as in “helo driver,” or “fighter jock.”

JP-4, JP-5
Types of jet fuel: the aroma of which makes former aviators nostalgic for flight operations. Usually seen floating on top of a cup of “go-juice.”

Judy
Radio call signaling that your quarry is in sight and you are taking control of the intercept.

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K — “Kilo”

Kick the Tires and Light the Fires
Formerly, to bypass or severely shorten the required routine of physically inspecting the aircraft prior to flight. Currently meaning “Let’s get this aircraft preflighted and outta here pronto!”

Knife Fight in a Phone Booth
Close-in, slow-speed aerial dogfight with a nimble adversary. Often just called a “knife- fight.”

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L — “Lima”

LEAPEX
A jump-through-your-ass project, exercise, or drill. Something silly that needs to be done NOW!

Lethal Cone, Cone of Vulnerability
Area to the rear of the jet’s tailpipe, into which most infra-red missile and gun attacks are ideally launched.

Lights Out
Radar off.

Lost the Bubble
Got confused or forgot what was happening.

Loading/Unloading
Increasing or decreasing angle of attack and G’s

Loud Handle
Lever or grip that fires ejection seat.

LSO
Landing Signal Officer. Squadron member with considerable experience in carrier landings, responsible for assisting others onto the deck and for grading their efforts. Also known as “paddles.”

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M — “Mike”

Martin-Baker Fan Club
If you eject, you’re a member (a reference to the Martin-Baker company, manufacturer of ejection seats). An official list of members is maintained.

Meatball
The glideslope indication light that pilots watch when they’re trapping.

Merge, Merged Plot
The point at which aircraft come into contact, after having been vectored toward each other by radar control.

MiGCAP
Combat Air Patrol over ground-attack aircraft to protect against an air-to-air threat.

Military Power
Maximum jet engine power without engaging afterburner.

Mini-Boss
The Assistant Air Boss.

Mort
Killed.

Mother, or Mom
The boat on which you are deployed, and where you launched from.

Mud-mover, Ground-pounder
Low-level attack aircraft such as the A-6 Intruder. The F/A-18 doubles as a fighter and a mud-mover (small amounts only).

Music
Electronic jamming intended to deceive radar.

My Fun Meter is Pegged
Sarcastic comment for, “I am not enjoying this any more.”

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N — “November”

NATOPS
The Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization program, responsible for rules and regulations governing safe and correct operation of all naval aircraft. Sometimes means in jest: “Not Applicable To Our Present Situation.” NATOPS manuals are sometimes referred to as “the big blue sleeping pill” in reference to their blue plastic covers.

NFO
An aviator who is an officer but not a pilot; pilots say it stands for “No Future Occupation”; also called the “Non-Flying Object” and “walk-n’-talkin’ navbag.” Sometimes referred to as DAP for “Double-Anchor Puke” (a reference to the crossed anchors on the NFO wings).

NFOD
No Fear of Death.

NFWS
The Navy Fighter Weapons School, a graduate school for fighter pilots. Its universal nickname is Topgun.

“Nice Vapes”
Comment on an exciting fly-by when high speed at low altitude or high G causes dramatic vapor trails.

No-Load
An underachiever. Named after the process of warming up the catapults before a launch. “Stand clear of Cat 1 while firing no-loads.”

No Joy
Failure to make visual sighting; or inability to establish radio communications.

Nugget
A first-tour aviator.

Nylon Letdown
Ejection and subsequent parachute ride.

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O — “Oscar”

OAST
Overland Air Superiority Training. A periodic training exercise conducted over land and integrating all the elements of the carrier’s air wing.

On the Mouse
Talking on the flight-deck radio circuit that uses a headset resembling Mickey Mouse ears.

Opportunity to excel
A disagreeable job without the time or resources to properly complete.

Oversweep
When the F-14, on the ground, sweeps its wings to seventy-two degrees aft making it easier to store.

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P — “Papa”

Padlocked
To have a bogey firmly in your sights.

Painted
Scanned by radar.

Passing Gas
What an aerial tanker does.

Pass
The point at which fighters, closing head-on, flash past each other. Also, an attempt at landing.

Penalty Box
If you get a wave off or a bolter, that’s where you go.

Pickle
A device held by the LSO that activates the “cut” light on the lens: as a verb, to drop a bomb or external fuel tank.

Pinging On
Paying close attention to; critical scrutinization. Also “bugging” as in, “Quit pinging on me.” From Sonar Pinging in helo ASW.

Pinkie
A landing made at twilight between the official time of sunset (or sunrise) and “real” darkness; it officially counts as a night landing, but is cheating; preferred type of “night” landing by 0-4’s and above.

Pit
Rear seat position of the F-14 Tomcat or F-4 Phantom. Also the refueling pit.

PLAT
Pilot Landing Aid Television. a videotape camera that records all carrier launches and recoveries.

Playmates
The pilots of other aircraft on the same mission as you.

Plumber
An inept pilot.

Pointy End
The front of a boat

Popeye
What you are when you’re flying in the goo.

Power Puke or Power Barf
Projectile vomiting, a symptom of airsickness.

Pole
Control stick.

Prang
To bump, crunch, or break an aircraft.

Pucker Factor
How scary something is.

Puke
Someone who flies a different kind of aircraft than you, as in fighter puke or attack puke.

Punch Out
To eject.

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Q — “Quebec”

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Quick Fix
Stop-gap measure or computer box change to repair an aircraft quickly.


R — “Romeo”

R2D2
A RIO (a reference to Luke Skywalker’s robot backseater in the Star Wars movies).

Ramp Strike
Landing short in the ramp area, resulting in a crash.

Radome
Streamlined fiberglass enclosure covering a radar antenna.

RAG
Replacement Air Group. Squadron in which newly trained pilots are introduced to, and trained in, a particular aircraft type. The official name is FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron).

Red Flag
A large mock air war, held quarterly by the Air Force at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Many non-Air Force assets — Navy/Marines, Army, foreign — are invited to participate.

Rhino
Nickname for the F-4 Phantom and now the F/A-18E or -18F Super Hornet. The Phantom was also known as the Double Ugly.

RIO
Radar Intercept Officer. Back-seat crewman in the F-14 Tomcat or F-4 Phantom II.

Rocket One
The skipper.

Roll ’Em
A movie (“What time’s the roll ’em?”) — a nightly social event in the readyroom.

Roof
The flight deck on the carrier.

Rounddown
The very back end of the flight deck, so called because of its rounded shape.

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S — “Sierra”

SA
Situational Awareness. An all-encompassing term for keeping track of what’s happening when flying. SA involves knowing what your airplane is doing relative to its envelope, where your adversary is and what he’s up to, where the ground is, the status of enemy threats on the ground, and hundreds of other variables. Loss of situational awareness is often cited as a contributing factor tomany military-aviation mishaps.

SAM
Surface-to-air missile.

SAR
Search and Rescue

Scooter
Nickname for the A-4 Skyhawk.

Scope
A RIO.

Section
Two aircraft operating together as a tactical unit.

Shoe
Short for “blackshoes,” a derogatory term for nonflying personnel; aviators wear brown shoes.

Shooter
The catapult officer.

Sierra Hotel
Phonetic abbreviation for “shit hot,” high praise; the pilot’s favorite and all-purpose expression of approval.

Slider
A hamburger cooked in aircraft carrier wardrooms with cheese to ensure the grease contest is high enough to guarantee it will slide off the plate in heavy seas.

Smoking Hole
An airplane crash site.

Sniffer
A device on the flight deck that checks that an aircraft is broadcasting IFF transmissions.

Snuggle Up
During formation flight, to close up under the wing of another aircraft.

Sortie
A single mission by one aircraft.

Spank or Shpank
What one does to a lesser opponent in a dogfight.

Speed of Heat, Warp One
Very, very fast.

Speed Slacks, Speed Jeans
The G-suit. which applies pressure to the legs to aid in preventing blackout during high-G maneuvering.

Spooled Up
Excited.

Spud Locker
The part of a carrier where you don’t want to land; it is well down on the fantail, so if you hit it, you are way too low (at least one Navy pilot earned the nickname “Spud” for doing just that).

State
How much fuel you’ve got. Mother requests, “Say your state.” Responded to in the form of hours and minutes of fuel onboard til you fall out of the sky (“splash”). You respond, “State two plus two zero to splash” = 2 hours and 20 minutes of flying time remaining.

Stick-Throttle Interconnect
Mock-tech term for a pilot (also called just a “stick”).

Sweet
Up and working.

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T — “Tango”

TACAN
TACtical Aid to Navigation. Navigation aid which provides bearing and distance (slant range) between it and an airplane.

TACTS
Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System. A system of computers, sensors, data pods, and graphic displays that permits real-time depiction of an aerial dogfight. TACTS is an integral element of aircrew training.

Tank
Refuel

Tango Uniform
Polite phonetics for “tits up”; broken, not functioning.

Texaco
An aerial tanker.

Three Down and Locked
Landing gear down and ready for landing. A required confirmation call prior to landing at Air Force bases. Pilots who fly fixed-gear aircraft are known to modify this call as “three down and welded.”

Three-Nine Line
Imaginary line across your airplane’s wingspan. A primary goal in ACM is to keep your adversary in front of your three-nine line.

Throttle Back
To slow down, take it easy.

Tickets
The jobs, billets, and accomplishments you need to climb the totem pole (the tickets get “punched”).

Tiger
An aggressive pilot.

Tilly
The mobile crane on the flight deck used to pick up disabled aircraft and move them.

Tits Machine
A good, righteous airplane. Current airplanes need not apply, this is a nostalgic term referring to birds gone by. By all accounts the F-8 Crusader was a tits machine.

Top Off
Fill up with gas.

TransPac/Lant
To cross the Pacific or Atlantic by aircraft.

Trap
An arrested landing on a carrier, a helo landing into an RSD (rapid securing device)

Trick-or-Treat
If you don’t make this pass. you have to tank or land ashore.

Turkey
Nickname for the F-14 Tomcat (when landing, the movement of its control surfaces makes it look like a turkey).

Tweak
To fine-tune or adjust.

Twirly
Anti-collision beacon on an aircraft.

Two Turnin’ and Two Burnin’
Refers to a P2V-7 in order to capture the flavor of having two Wright R-3350s (turnin’) and two Westinghouse J34 pure jets (burnin’) on takeoff. Jets were later put into standby for a rainy day.

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U — “Uniform”

Up
Working, not broken.

Up and Locked
As in “Brain Disengaged.” Derives from that bad thing that happens when you try to make a gear-up approach.

Up on the Governor
When someone is about to have a tantrum (term comes from the device that keeps the engine from overspeeding).

Up to Speed, or Up to Snuff
To understand or to know what’s going on.

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V — “Victor”

Varsity Play for the Deck
A skillful landing attempt.

VSTOL
Very Short Takeoff and Landing. Also VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing). The AV-8B Harrier is a VSTOL (VTOL) aircraft. Capable of vectoring its jet thrust to shorten its take-off roll or even to rise and descend vertically.

Vulture’s Row
A viewing gallery on an aircraft carrier’s island where you can watch flight operations.

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W — “Whiskey”

Warm Fuzzy
Feeling of confidence or security. When things feel right.

Warthog
Universal nickname for the A-10 Thunderbolt II close air support aircraft.

Wash Out
To not make the grade at flight school.

Waveoff
When the LSO orders a pilot not to trap. A mandatory signal, usually a visual (waveoff lights on the lens) or audible command (on the UHF radio) for a pilot to cease his approach and not touch down.

Whiskey Charlie
Phonetics for “Who cares.”

Whiskey Delta
Phonetics for “Weak Dick,” a pilot who can’t cut it. Such a scurrilous term that it’s almost never used.

’Winder
A Sidewinder missile.

Wingman
Second pilot in a two-plane formation. Responsible for ensuring that his leader’s six o’clock remains clear.

Workups
Putting a ship through certain tests and exercises before going on cruise.

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X — “X-Ray”

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Y — “Yankee”

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Z — “Zulu”

Zero-Dark-Thirty
Technically a half-hour after midnight, but commonly used to describe any event that is scheduled to take place after midnight and before sunrise.

Zone 1
Minimum afterburner in the Tomcat.

Zone 5
Maximum afterburner in the Tomcat.

Zoombag
Flight suit.

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