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.


 
 

 

Local Briefs April 18, 2014

NARFE Chapter 1874 to meet April 21, noon – 1 p.m. – Golden Corral Restaurant Current and retired Federal employees, spouses, guests, and visitors are invited to join NARFE Chapter 1874 at the Golden Corral Restaurant, 6865 N. Thornydale Dr.  The April meeting will be Monday, April 21. (Senior menu $7.95)  Lunch starts at 11:30...
 
 
DiamondSharp_pict

Diamond Sharp April 18, 2014

Name/Squadron: Airman 1st Class Jessica Nail / 612 AOC (CPD) First Sergeant: Master Sgt. Jamie Harwick Duty Title: ATO Production Technician When joined the AF: August 16, 2011 Hometown: Cambridge, Illinois Hobbies: Soccer, Pla...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier)

Military child recognized by Arizona BGCA

A Sonoran Science Academy freshman was recently selected as the Boys and Girls Club of America Arizona Military Youth of the Year. David Zulli, son of Lt. Col. Daniel Zulli, 355th Fighter Wing base chaplain, competed against ot...
 

 
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Drzazgowski)

Grappling, pummeling, trapping: 162nd Airmen learn to ‘close with the enemy’

MARANA, Ariz. – The words on the gym wall summed it up best for 13 security forces specialists who trained at the Western Army National Guard Aviation Training Site here March 17-21. “The defining characteristic of a ...
 
 

Air Force launches new program to capture innovative ideas

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – Air Force officials announced the creation of a new program April 4, designed to harness Airmen’s innovation. Airmen Powered by Innovation, or API, will replace three existing Air Force “good idea” programs – the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment, and Best Practices programs – and expand the role o...
 
 
AFSOUTH_pict

AFSOUTH sends training team to Colombia to prepare for Exercise ANGEL THUNDER

Capts. Aaron Cavazos and David Nagle, A-10 weapons officers assigned to the 355th Fighter Wing, recently returned from their second mobile training team (MTT) event this year with the Colombian Air Force (COLAF) to prepare for ...
 




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