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Check Six: Call Signs

July 22, 2019

From the National Guard magazine website

Nicknames are popular in many endeavors, but nowhere are they more part of the culture than among fighter pilots.

A pilot best known as Gump made a little history April 6 as four Vermont Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcons took to the sky from Burlington International Airport.

He led “Viper Out,” the emotional departure ceremony for the 158th Fighter Wing’s last F-16s. After 33 years of operating the longtime workhorse fighter, the wing will soon become the first in the Air Guard to receive the F-35 Lightning II.

That Lt. Col. Daniel Finnegan and the three other pilots are better known by call signs than family names was one of the few routine occurrences on this day. Every fighter pilot in the U.S. military, it seems, has a call sign. It’s part of the culture.

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In the Hawaii Air National Guard, members of the 199th Fighter Squadron have all “earned” a call sign. Some are takeoffs of your name, but others are a result of a embarrassing incident very early in your flying career.

BTW: your call sign can change if there is another incident in your career.

Some call signs of HIANG aircrew past and present include:

Primo Joe, Bones, Odie, FANG, Thunder, Pirate, Con, Rainbow, Moon, Bat, Doodles, Spike, TRIFOX, Narco, Sky, Higgy, Mynah, Saigon, Humphrey, Kudzu, Kippety Klopp, Butcher, Crash, OZ, Ossum, Pork, Bizzare, Shaka, Rocket, Moke, Dugie and Spreadmo.

There are stories behind all of these call signs, but it would take a couple of beers to get those stories.

There are some members of the 203d Air Refueling Squadron and the 204th Airlift Squadron with call signs – some from flying fighters earlier in their career or from an incident.

From → History

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