We Are The Mighty

This is how drunken shenanigans influence pilot callsigns

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In this episode of the Mandatory Fun podcast, Blake, Shannon, Tim, and O.V. discuss the interesting process of how Air Force pilots receive their callsigns.

In the military, callsigns are considered much more than just a name — they’re meant to capture the personality and spirit of the person.

When you think of the characters in “Top Gun,” you’re not thinking of Pete Mitchell or Nick Bradshaw — it’s Maverick and Goose, and they probably have hilarious stories that explain where those names came from. Those stories are told in a naming ceremony.

The details and traditions vary, but the rite of passage is usually met with drinks and shenanigans. Like a roast, the pilot sits front and center while his or her buddies one-by-one regale a story and propose a callsign related to it.

“It’s kind of like a roasting,” Air Force veteran Shannon Corbeil humorously explains. “This is where you get to make fun of your friends.”

The squadron then collectively debates and votes on the final name.

Related: These are the wars we’d fight in if we had a time machine

When you see it.

Although the other branches use radio callsigns and nicknames, the pilot’s callsign is highly meaningful, as is the ridiculous and amazing ceremony behind it!

Hosted By:

Blake Stilwell: Air Force veteran and Managing Editor

Tim Kirkpatrick: Navy veteran and Editorial Coordinator

Orvelin Valle (AKA O.V.): Navy veteran and Podcast Producer

Shannon Corbeil: Air Force veteran and On-Camera Host