Only in the movies do fighter pilots enjoy cool nicknames like “Viper”, “Iceman”, or “The AGM-65 Maverick is an air-to-ground missile (AGM) designed for close air support. It is the most widely produced precision-guided missile in the Western world, and is effective against a wide range of tactical targets, including armor, air defenses, ships, ground transportation and fuel storage facilities..” In the real world, A nickname aircrew use to address one another on the ground and in-flight, in lieu of using real names and ranks. are generally plays on names (e.g. “Notso” Sharp), reflective of a pilot’s physical resemblance to some well-known character (“Shrek” Olsen), or the result of a mistake the pilot made at some point in his or her career (“Skids” Pennington). Admittedly, they are at times derogatory, and frequently not politically correct, but they are almost always funny.
On this episode, U.S. Navy Captain Brian “Ferg” Fergusson stops by to explain those whimsical, often juvenile nicknames many military aviators go by instead of their real names when flying and, on the ground. Learn how callsigns are assigned, whether they ever change, and why it’s actually a good thing when a new fighter pilot despises a newly-assigned callsign.
Episode photography courtesy of Brian Ferguson. Bumper music by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.