Local

December 12, 2013

Call signs represent more than name

Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Maybe the most familiar call signs known to the movie-going public are “Maverick,” “Iceman” and “Goose,” call signs for pilots in the movie “Top Gun.” And just like in the movies, fighter pilots in real life have call signs, too.

The origin of pilot call signs is mysterious, but how pilots get their call signs and their often-humbling nature is no mystery.

Some people say call signs began during World War I. Others say the custom began before that.

“There are a lot of myths out there,” said Maj. Sean Canfield, 62nd Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. “The most common story I hear is during WWI pilots would arrive in their new squadron, bond with other pilots and they would go on a mission and never come back. You give them a call sign or a nickname and that’s how you know them.”

However it began, the nicknames pilots are given by their peers are proudly worn on their flight suits and stenciled on their aircraft.

Pilots usually get a call sign after finishing mission qualification training and after being on-station at their first duty assignment for three months.

“We give call signs to B-coursers, but they’re temporary,” Canfield said. “When they go to their combat unit, they get their permanent name.”

There are rules to receiving names. Some considerations: Has a pilot dropped bombs in war? Has he been in more than two commands?

Depending on the answers, a pilot may keep a call sign throughout a career.

“There are some bone-headed things you can do to be ‘hostilely’ renamed, but it is usually only temporary,” Canfield said.

If two pilots arrive at a new squadron with the same call sign, seniority usually takes precedence.

Squadron pilots gather together in a “naming ceremony” to bestow call signs, and pilots share tales about those being given monikers.

“Everyone tells stories about you, and they’re usually not flattering,” Canfield said. “Names get written down, we make fun of them and the pilot sits there and takes the beating. Then we go through a vote, and the top three are presented to the one being named to pick.”

Unbeknownst to the candidate, however, the name is usually already decided for them.

Canfield received his call sign, “LOBO,” shortly after he arrived at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The meaning of his call sign is two-fold and combines two interesting events in his life.

Canfield was walking his two German shepherds one day and decided to take them off the leash to play Frisbee. An Airman ran by and his dogs chased the Airman. News of this event spread across his squadron.

“This was my third day in the squadron, and I’m calling my commander from the police shack saying, ‘Hey, I’m in trouble here; my dogs attacked a guy.’ That led to rabid dogs, wolf dogs and it became part of my name.”

The other part of Canfield’s call sign came from his lack of experience shooting the F-16 gun at the time.

“When I went to shoot the gun on the range with my new squadron, I didn’t do very well,” he said.

These two events merged into Canfield’s new call sign.

“They made a play on my name,” Canfield said. “Lobo, which is Spanish for wolf, and LOBO, which means, ‘leery of bullets ordnance.’”

For pilots, being given a call sign is a memorable thing, according to Capt. Marcus Landrum, 62nd FS instructor pilot.

“It keeps them humble and builds camaraderie and kinship,” he said. “It means being part of a brotherhood. It means you are a mission-ready fighter pilot, and it defines you as that fighter pilot.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Free Tax Services available on Davis-Monthan AFB

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance tax center opened its doors today for Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve and Public Health personnel. There are 35 volunteers at the VITA office to include 27 tax preparers with the ability to conduct 10 appointments at a time. “The volunteers here are IRS certified tax preparers,” according to Skip...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

D-M puts its agencies to the test

An aircraft crash training exercise was held at the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance range here Feb. 19. The simulated crash site was scattered throughout a two mile radius. “The idea was to test the base’s capabilities...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Timothy Boyer)

Flyovers: Sight, sound of freedom

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — They are breathtaking, flawless and can cause the viewer to have goosebumps. They look easy, but, according to those who perform them, flyovers take training, skill and precise decisions to ex...
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

Making energy efficiency a consideration in all we do

D-M was recognized for being an energy efficiency installation by Tucson Electric Power during the Bright Energy Efficiency award presentation at TEP’s headquarters building, Feb. 11, 2015. The BrightEE award is given to cust...
 
 

Free Tax services opens on D-M

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance tax center is no open for Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve and Public Health personnel. There are 35 volunteers at the VITA office to include 27 tax preparers with the ability to conduct 10 appointments at a time. “The volunteers here are IRS certified tax preparers,” according to Skip Barkley,...
 
 

AF unveils airborne qualified radio able to support SRW

In today’s complex battle environment, networked communications is key to the success of ground operations. The challenge facing the military today is how to extend that modern connectivity to air assets to enable support of ground operations. That challenge was met recently in a live demonstration using a contractor’s ARC-210 software defined radio (SDR), the...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin