air force slang

Mullins, Bill Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Mon Dec 27 05:44:26 UTC 2004

from Airman Magazine 11/97

GI Jargon: A lexicon of airman idioms and flight line slang
by Tech. Sgt. Pat McKenna

When I told my mom I was "short" (a double-digit midget to be exact) and
going TDY to the Sandbox before punching out of the Puzzle Palace for a PCS
to the ROK, she quickly replied, "Huh?" and asked, "Could you repeat that in
English, please?"

Mom isn't quite conversant in Air Forcese - the unique parlance that's been
spoken by bluesuit service insiders for the last 50 years. Air Force-speak
is Greek to her and many "outsiders."

In an effort to acquaint the uninitiated with the language of Airphonics,
Airman magazine has provided a translation guide to this distinctive
dialect, including terms dating back before 1947, when the Air Force became
a separate service.

Above my paygrade: Another way of saying, "Don't ask me."

Ace: A combat pilot scoring five or more air-to-air kills.

Alert: Pulling missile launch, bomber or fighter alert duty.

At zero: Having an enemy fighter on your tail.

Auger in: Euphemism for crashing an airplane.

Bag(s): Flight suit.

Bandit: Enemy fighter.

Bluesuiter: Air Force member.

Blues: The Air Force's blue uniform.

Bogey: Unidentified aircraft.

Boomer: Boom operator on an aerial refueling aircraft.

Brat: Child of a military member.

Buck slip: Routing slip attached to memos that requires signatures. Comes
from "passing the buck."

Butter bar: Second lieutenant. Also called "el tee," "louie" and the
"missing link."

Buy the farm: Get killed in action.

Check your six: Watch your tail!

Civvies: Civilian clothes.

Cumulo granite: A cloud-enshrouded mountain.

Deadhead crew: A second crew, usually on an airlift mission, who are

Deep Kimchi: Big trouble. Used by airmen stationed in Korea.

Doolie: First year cadet at the Air Force Academy.

Double dipper: A retired servicemember working in civil service.

Double-digit midget: Less than 100 days left on station.

Dream sheet: Nickname for Air Force form used to volunteer for assignments.

El-Tee: Nickname for a lieutenant. Sometimes called a "louie."

Face time: Getting in to see the boss.

Fangs out: A gung-ho fighter pilot itching for combat.

FIGMO: Acronymn for Forget It, Got My Orders.

File 13: Trash can, sometimes called the circular file.

First shirt: A squadron's first sergeant.

First termer: Usually an enlisted member serving his first hitch
[enlistment] in the service. As opposed to a lifer.

Fly Boy: An Air Force aviator, also known as "zoomies" and "wing nuts."
Fighter pilots also are known as "fighter jocks."

Fruit salad: A chest full of ribbons.

FUBAR: Acronymn for Fouled Up Beyond All Repair.

Full-bird colonel: An Air Force 0-6, who has silver eagles. A "light"
colonel is the nickname for a lieutenant colonel, who wears silver
"bottlecaps" (leaves).

Fur balls: Confusion during a multiple aircraft dogfight.

Getting mopped up: Donning chemical warfare gear.

GI party: Massive "policing" [cleaning] of an office or dormitory.

GI: Government Issue. American servicemember.

Giant voice: A public address system that broadcasts messages across the
base or flightline.

Gig line: The alignment of the uniform's shirt, belt buckle and fly.

Go get me a yard of flightline: A spurious errand new recruits are sent on
to procure mythical substances. These wild goose chases are called
"runarounds" or "go-fors." Other imaginary items requested include "a gallon
of propwash" and "skyhooks."

Golden BB: A lucky shot that brings down an aircraft.

Ground pounder: Term for Air Force members who don't fly. They're also
called ground hogs, wing weenies, penguins, chairborne rangers, pencil
pushers and desk jockeys, among others. Aviators in staff jobs are said to
be "flying a desk."

Hedgehop: To fly an aircraft low. Also known as brushing the bushes, flying
in the weeds and contour chasing.

Hitch: An enlistment.

Hitting the silk: World War II slang for parachuting from an aircraft.
Nowadays, it's a "nylon letdown."

Homesteading: Remaining at one base for a long duration.

Hurry up and wait: A term airmen use to describe the pace of military

Lifer: A term used by first-termers to refer to career servicemembers.
Lifers are usually "ate up," and are staying in the military "for the

Media puke: A journalist. Also called headaches, pencils and JIB rats. JIB
is short for Joint Information Bureau.

Milk run: An uneventful, easy combat flight.

Monkey suit: The fur suit used by World War I and II aviators flying at high
altitudes. Now used to refer to the military uniform in general.

Monopoly money: Foreign currency.

Night CAP: Nighttime Combat Air Patrol.

Notams: Notices issued to aircrews on what they might encounter en route.

O-dark-30: Early in the morning.

Painted: Getting scanned by radar.

PCS: Permanent Change of Station.

POV: Privately Owned Vehicle. Your car as opposed to a GOV (government

Pucker factor: Level of anxiety experienced by aircrews.

Puke: Somebody in a different career field as yours. For instance, an admin
puke, PA puke, headquarters puke, etc.

Punch out: Eject or bail from an aircraft. Sometimes used to say your going
home for the day or leaving.

Puzzle Palace: The Pentagon. Also known as Fort Fumble and the Fudge

RHIP: Acronym for Rank Has Its Privileges

ROAD: Retired On Active Duty.

ROK: Pronounced Rock, short for Republic of Korea. Okinawa and Guam are also
referred to as "rocks," because they are small islands.

Sandbox: Saudi Arabia. Also called the "Desert" and the "Beach."

Short: Ready to retire, separate or change duty stations.

Sierra Hotel: Pilotspeak for "Super Hot!"

Skate: Not working hard on the job.

Slick sleeve: An airman basic.

SNAFU: Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.

Target-rich environment: Pilotese for more targets than bombs.

TDY: Temporary Duty

The World: The United States, as in "When are you going back to the World?"

Thule coolie: Someone stationed at Thule AB, Greenland.

Trained killer: A recent graduate of technical school, such as "He's a
Keesler-trained killer."

Triple-A: Anti-Aircraft Artillery fire.

Turn and burn: To service an aircraft quickly and get it airborne again.
Also called a hot turn.

Whitewalls: A hair cut high above the ears.

Why Not Minot?: Nickname for Minot Air Force Base, N.D.

Wizzo: Nickname for weapons systems officers, also known as backseaters,
GIBs [Guy In the Backseat] and trained bears.

Yankin' and bankin': Fighter pilotese for aggressive aerial maneuvers.

Zulu: Greenwich Mean Time.

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