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.


 
 

 

New tool to improve cleanup at Tucson-area AF plant

The AF Civil Engineer Center has found a new method to remove toxins trapped in naturally occurring dense soils, like clay, in Tucson called Hrydrofracturing. During the 1950s to the early 1970s, Air Force Plant 44 in Tucson, a government-owned, contractor-operated manufacturing facility, disposed of metals and solvents which led to soil and groundwater contamination...
 
 

D-M to host 2nd annual Pat’s Run

Davis-Monthan is scheduled to host the Second Annual DMAFB Pat’s Run Troop Run on Saturday, April 25 at 8 a.m. The ruck/walk/run will begin at the Benko Fitness Center and will be 4.2 miles long. This event can be enjoyed by all family members! Cost for adults is $20.00 and children 12 and under are...
 
 

Dreamliner lands, defuels at D-M en route to Pima Air & Space Museum

A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is towed across Valencia Road to the Pima Air & Space Museum after landing and defueling at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, March 26. The aircraft is the first large commercial aircraft to feature an airframe made almost entirely of composite materials rather than aluminum. A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is towed on...
 

 
(U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Erich B. Smith)

162nd Wing provides assistance as D-M security forces goes “down range”

For decades now, the 162nd Wing and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base have maintained the presence of global air power in the Tucson skies while invoking a patriotic sprit in the community. Their military presence, however, is not e...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

355th Communication Squadron stands up call center

On April 1, the 355th Communications Squadron launched a new call center here for D-M customers to receive local customer support from the 355th Cobras rather than from The Enterprise Service Desk. Customers should continue usi...
 
 

Dreamliner lands at D-M en route to Pima Air & Space Museum

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey) A Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is towed across Valencia Road to the Pima Air & Space Museum after landing and defueling at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, March 26. The aircraft is the first large commercial aircraft to feature an airframe made almost entirely of composite materials...
 




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