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Aviator Call Signs: The History & Naming Rituals

January 23, 2022

From the Department of Defense website

If you’ve been a fully trained military pilot for more than a few months, chances are that you’ve scored yourself a call sign by now. The call sign tradition is celebrated by aviation communities across all military branches. These pilot nicknames can quickly identify an aircraft or individual, and they also help to confuse the enemy, who

might be listening in on your communications. 

Nowadays, call sign naming rituals for fighter, bomber and other pilots are a pretty formal process amongst the services, which will be detailed later in this article. But those rituals developed slowly over time, and the origins of the tradition are a bit murky. Several military historians were interviewed for this story, and no one could definitively say how pilot call signs got their start. 

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Over the years, 199th Fighter Squadron aircrew have had some interesting call signs. Some that come to mind include:

Saigon, Saw, Cabby, Ginger, Magoo, Buckshot, Ulu, Rocket, Ehu, Jag, Yobo, Chewy, Boss, Humphery, Spreadmo, Eagle, Primo Joe, FANG, Rainbow, Ace, Paddy, KG, Hammer, Big Daddy, Ozzie, Grinder, Stringer, Pork, Bizzare, Ossum, Rosie, Lordy, Narco, Odie, Mongo, Thunder, Crash, Sumo, Dusty, Zoomba, Grinder, Skipper, JC, Shaka, Frenchy, Boz, Ninja (2), Pirate, Biff, Ginszu, TRIFOX, Dude, Saw, Wildman, Chucker, HR, Buddha, Inch, Stuck, Swabes, Doodles, Moke, Conman, Kazi, Boy San, Gooch, Sky, Babe, Jipsi, Rojo, Kudzu, Kila, Odie, Kahuna, Knockers, Kazi, Pilau, Butcher, Tojo, Cujo, Sluggo, Mute, BD, Tonto, Deke, Moon, Easy.

From → History

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