23 terms only fighter pilots understand

If you’ve ever hung out with military aviators (or watched movies like “Top Gun” or “Iron Eagle”) you know they tend to use a lot of strange lingo when they talk, even when they’re out of the cockpit. Trying to hold a conversation with them can be tough — until now. WATM presents this handy list of fighter speak that will help keep that social interaction going, which is important because fighter guys have a lot of wisdom to put out and it would be a shame if it got lost in translation.

So here’s the gouge . . . er, here you go:

1. “Angels”

fighter pilot term angels

U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Greg Linderman

Altitude in thousand of feet. (“Angels 3” is 3,000 feet.)

2. “Cherubs”

Altitude in hundreds of feet. (“Cherubs 3” is 300 feet.)

3. “Bandit”

fighter pilot term bandit

An air-to-air right side view of a Soviet MiG-31 Foxhound aircraft.

A known bad guy.

4. “Bogey”

fighter pilot term bogie

Joe Stephens, YouTube

An unknown radar contact.

5. “Bent”

fighter pilot meme

If a piece of gear is inop it is “bent.” (“Giantkiller, be advised my radar is bent.”)

6. “Bingo”

fighter pilot term bingo

bnepethomas, YouTube

Low fuel status or direction to head for the divert field. (“Lobo is bingo fuel,” or “Ghostrider, your signal is bingo.”)

7. “Blind”

fighter-pilot-term-blind

Wingman not in sight.

8. “Delta”

fighter pilot term delta

giphy

Change to a later time, either minutes or hours depending on the context. (“Delta 10 on your recovery time” means the jet is now scheduled to land 10 minutes later.)

9. “Firewall”

fighter pilot term firewall

giphy

Push the throttles to their forward limit. (“I had that bitch firewalled, and I still couldn’t get away from that SAM ring.”)

10. “Buster”

Direction to go as fast as possible. (“Diamondback, your signal is buster to mother.”)

11. “Bug”

Exit a dogfight rapidly. (“Gucci is on the bug.”)

12. “Fragged”

fighter pilot term fragged

Air Force ordies load a training GBU (recognizable by its blue color). (U.S. Air Force photo)

An indication that the airplane is loaded weapons-wise according to the mission order. (“Devil 201 is on station as fragged.”)

13. “Grape”

fighter pilot term grape

giphy

A pilot who’s an easy kill in a dogfight.

14. “Naked”

fighter pilot term naked

giphy

Radar warning gear without indication of a missile threat.

15. “Punch out”

fighter pilot term punch out

Giphy

To eject from an airplane.

16. “RTB”

fighter piloter term rtb

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso

Return to base. (“Big Eye, Eagle 301 is RTB.”)

17. “Spiked”

top gun beach volleyball

Um, not that “spike.” The real “spiked” is an indication of a missile threat on the radar warning receiver. (“Rooster has an SA-6 spike at three o’clock.”)

18. “Tally”

fighter pilot term tally

Enemy in sight (as opposed to “visual,” which means friendly in sight). (“Nuke is tally two bandits, four o’clock low.”)

19. “Texaco”

f-22 aerial refuel fighter pilot term texaco

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mary O’Dell

Either a label for the tanker or direction to go to the tanker. (“Gypsy, Texaco is at your one o’clock for three miles, level,” or “Gypsy, your signal is Texaco.”)

20. “Nose hot/cold”

Usually used around the tanker pattern, an indication that the radar is or isn’t transmitting.

21. “Vapes”

fighter pilot term vapes

Wingnut Wick, YouTube

The condensation cloud created when an airplane pulls a lot of Gs. (“Man, I came into the break and was vaping like a big dog.”)

22. “Visual”

fighter-pilot-talk-to-me-goose

Wingman (or other friendly) in sight (as opposed to “tally,” which means enemy in sight). (“Weezer, you got me?” “Roger, Weezer is visual.”)

23. “Winchester”

fighter pilot term winchester

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jared Becker

Out of weapons. (“Tomcat 102 is winchester and RTB.”)

Bonus 1. “G-LOC”

fighter pilot term g force wasted

Alexandre Fernandes da Silva, YouTube

“G-induced loss of consciousness.” (Not good when at the controls of a fighter traveling at high speed at low altitude.)

Bonus 2. “The Funky Chicken”

fighter piloter term the funky chicken

Alexandre Fernandes da Silva, YouTube

“The Funky Chicken” is what aviators call the involuntary movements that happen during G-LOC.

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