Do You Know Your Air Force Slang?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Test Hero Credit

About This Quiz

"Turn on the blowers, let's go bounce some bogeys!" The United States Air Force is a haven for all sorts of lingo. How well do you know Air Force slang?

In the Air Force, what are "birds"?

Birds are simply planes. From bombers to fighters, birds are (obviously) the single most important tool of the Air Force.


If another fighter pilot tells you to "check your six," what should you do?

If you're in the heat of battle and someone tells you to check your six, look behind you. You may have an enemy stalking you.


What's a slang term for a jet's afterburner?

Afterburners temporarily create extra thrust during certain flight maneuvers. The "blowers" are spectacularly powerful, but they consume tremendous amounts of fuel, too.


What does a "jammer" do in the Air Force?

A jammer vehicle is a strange-looking contraption that loads weapons onto warplanes. The jammer has a lift on the front to raise heavy munitions into the belly or the wings of an aircraft.


If a pilot outmaneuvers an enemy who is on his tail, he _____.

If you're being chased by an enemy fighter pilot, spit him out. It means to conduct a series of maneuvers that leaves the enemy in your figurative dust.


What does it mean if a pilot has a "ham fist"?

A ham-fisted pilot yanks the controls to and fro. It's not a good thing, particularly if you're prone to motion sickness.


Why would Air Force personnel "pull chocks"?

Pulling chocks means removing the wheel blocks that prevent a plane from rolling along the tarmac. It means it's time to send the plane into the skies.


If a pilot executes a "break," what is the pilot doing?

A "break" is a hard turn. To dodge an enemy, a pilot may have to "break left" or "break right" to initiate evasive maneuvers.


What's a slang term for the Air Force Academy?

Some people call the Academy the "zoo." Those who graduate are referred to as "zoomies."


What's a nickname for an Airman Basic, the lowest enlisted rank in the Air Force?

An Airman Basic is a Slick Sleeve. Why? He has the cleanest looking sleeves in the military ... because he has no rank insignia.


In the Air Force, "DBA" stands for ____.

A DBA is a Dirt Bag Airman. He or she has very little regard for standards of hygiene and behavior ... and usually doesn't work much, either.


A ground attack aircraft is sometimes called a _____.

Ground attack aircraft launch munitions that cause massive explosions -- they literally change the landscape. They are "mud movers."


What's a nickname for the F-117 Nighthawk?

The Nighthawk is a scary-looking stealth warplane. But from certain angles, it has an insect-like visual appeal, sort of like a stink bug.


What does it mean if a pilot is a "good stick".

A "good stick" is a qualified and talented pilot. If you're on the ground and in need of air power, you want good sticks flying the skies above you.


If someone tells you to "standby," what do they want you to do?

"Standby for the next transmission." To standby means to wait, possibly for another round of communication or orders.


What purpose does a "load toad" serve?

The load toad is the guy or gal who drives the "jammer" vehicles used to load weapons onto warplanes. The best load toads are careful and efficient.


If a pilot is flying "in the weeds," where is she?

Only pilots with good reaction speeds should be flying in the weeds. It means they are flying very, very low to the ground.


If the Air Force unleashes a "crowd pleaser," what did it do?

"Crowd pleaser" is sometimes used as slang for a nuclear weapon. It's a bit of black humor for you.


What does it mean if an airman has "fangs out"?

In the heat of a furious battle, fighter pilots might be encouraged to go fangs out -- in other words, to get very aggressive in attacking the enemy.


What Air Force job do "heavy drivers" have?

Heavy drivers are the men and women who pilot the force's large aircraft. They may be delivering cargo or dropping bombs.


An unidentified or enemy aircraft might be called a _____.

A "bogey" is an unidentified or enemy plane. If bogeys are incoming, you'd best be ready.


If you wreck an aircraft, where did you send it?

If you wreck an airplane, you've sent it "back to the taxpayers." You can expect to be in a lot of hot water after crashing a plane.


What is "Operation Golden Flow"?

Operation Golden Flow is sometimes used as slang for drug testing in the military. Failing Operating Golden Flow is extremely detrimental to an airman's career.


What's a slang term for cocky fighter pilots?

They are the sometimes arrogant men and women who scream through the air at fantastic speeds -- the Zipper-Suited Sun Gods. Some of them are really good at their jobs, while others just think they are.


If an Air Force pilot pushes the "firewall," what is he or she doing?

Older planes have an actual firewall between the pilot and the engine, so pushing the throttle to maximum was going to the "firewall." It means going full speed.


What does it mean if someone is "breaking red"?

Many Air Force bases have a thick red line painted on the tarmac, and only authorized personnel are allowed past that line. "Breaking red" is a serious security violation that often ends with a loud confrontation with well-armed soldiers.


If a pilot is really good, he or she has _____

A really competent pilot has "golden hands." If you're a passenger, you want the golden hands pilot over the ham-fisted pilot every time.


If an airman goes "varsity," how much effort did he put into a task?

A varsity effort is a maximum effort. In a war zone, hopefully, all airmen are putting in a varsity effort.


What do airmen do with a "piddle pack"?

A piddle pack is a device that lets pilots urinate during flight. Otherwise, you know, things would get messy in the cockpit in a hurry.


If an aircraft is "trapped" on an aircraft carrier, what happened?

An aircraft that's trapped lands on a carrier, and it is grabbed by the arresting gear on the landing deck so that the plane doesn't roll into the ocean. A "night trap" is the same process but completed at night.


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