How Well Do You Know Military Pilot Slang?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Yeah, you’ve watched “Top Gun” about 100 times, so you’re probably pretty much qualified to fly an F-15. Or maybe an F-35, because you know, the ‘80s were a very long time ago. You may not know a Lightning II from a Warthog, but you may think you understand military pilot lingo. Think you can put the smack down on our aviator slang quiz? Are you fumbling for your ejector seat already?

“Bogies” and “bandits” are almost the same thing … but they’re not. Do you know the difference? If you don’t, you’ll be punching out before you know it, stranded in the middle of this nearly impossible quiz.

Pilot lingo goes anywhere from incredibly basic, like “break,” to corporate (i.e. “Winchester” and “Texaco”), and if you’re not up to speed on the jargon, you may run out of fuel and wind up ditching your bomber in the ocean waves. That’s something you definitely don’t want to do if you’re carrying a “crowd pleaser.”

Crank up the “blowers” and fly into the danger zone. We’ll see if your mighty wings will take you through the fire of our slang quiz, or whether you’d be better off playing with the boys. Take our military pilot quiz now!

If you're turning on the "blower," what are you doing?

Jet pilots turn on the "blowers" when they want a speed boost. It means they're engaging the afterburners.


In a dogfight with another fighter, what should you do if someone tells you to "check your six"?

If someone screams "check six" at you in a dogfight, you'd better look behind your plane immediately. "Check twelve" is to look forward.


"Angels" refers to what aspect of flying?

Angels are altitude, in thousands of feet. If a pilot says he's going to ascend to "Angels 4," he's going to 4,000 feet.


If you're flying a small plane and another pilot says you're in a "bomber pattern," he just _____.

"Bomber pattern" means your spacing is way too wide, particularly for small planes. You're definitely being taunted.


If your fuel level is "bingo," what's happening?

"Bingo" fuel is often bad news. It means you're low on fuel and you need to land very soon.


What's a word that means "hard turn"?

"Break right!" To "break" means to execute a hard turn, and it’s a maneuver that's important when an enemy is tracking you.


What term would you use to describe a known enemy fighter?

If you've identified an enemy aircraft in the vicinity, you don't need to know his first name. You just call him "bandit."


If you "punch out," what are you doing?

Pilots "punch out" only as a last resort, when the plane is definitely beyond saving. It means they are ejecting.


If you're "blind," your ____ is not in sight.

If your wingman isn't in view, you're "blind." This concept is the same in jet fighters and in bars.


If a pilot says his "nose is hot," what does it mean?

A "hot nose" means the radar unit is working. A "cold nose," on the other hand, means the radar is off or malfunctioning.


What's a term for being out of weapons?

If your plane is "Winchester," you are flat-out of weapons. If you're a patriotic pilot, you will, of course, crash your plane into the nearest enemy structure and go out in a blaze of glory.


If you're chatting about "Texaco" during a flight, you're referring to which process?

When pilots chat about "Texaco," they're referring to mid-air refueling. A Texaco, of course, is a brand of gas station.


If a pilot experiences "G-LOC," what happened?

"G-LOC" refers to G-induced loss of consciousness, and it's when G-forces are so great that they cause pilots to pass out. As you can imagine, this is kind of a bad thing.


If you have a "visual," you see what?

A "visual" means you have eyes on a friendly plane. Probably don't blow up that one.


What's the term of altitude in terms of hundreds of feet?

"Angels" refers to thousands of feet. "Cherubs" on the other hand, refers to altitude in hundreds of feet. That, and the chubby baby angels that appear on your F-15's wings during intense battles, guiding you to glory.


What would you do with a "crowd pleaser"?

A "crowd pleaser" is a nuclear weapon. If you drop one of these suckers, you will definitely draw the awe (and horror) of billions of humans.


If you want to go after an easy kill during a dogfight, you'd attack the _____.

"Grape" is a derogatory term for inferior pilots. They're the ones most obviously subject to Darwin's rules during a dogfight.


If a pilot "vapes," what is he doing?

When fighters zoom around the sky, sometimes they'll leave clouds of condensation in their wake. They're "vaping."


"Bogey" refers to what aspect of flying?

"Bogies" are unidentified radar contacts. You might be sent to investigate bogies, only to find out that they're really "bandits."


Why would a pilot "RTB"?

If your flight controller tells you to RTB, it means "return to base." Never attempt to retrieve your bombs, because man, they're gone.


If you "delta" your landing time, what did you do?

To "delta" means to delay some aspect of your day. If you "delta 10 your landing," you'll now land your plane 10 minutes later than originally planned.


What does it mean if a piece of an aircraft is "bent"?

"You know, I'd love to fire these missiles at the fighter that's stalking me, but my weapons systems are bent." Bent means "inoperable."


If a pilot flies "into the weeds," what's he doing?

Pilots who fly "into the weeds" are flying very low, perhaps to dodge radar or escape an enemy.


What do Air Force types store in "igloos"?

Igloos are the little bunkers that store warplane weapons. Technicians quickly wheel missiles and bombs out of the igloos and load them onto planes during the heat of battle.


If you're "spiked," you need to be wary of what?

Pilots don't like to hear about being "spiked." It means that there's an inbound missile somewhere and that they need to take evasive action.


If you "firewall" your plane, what are you doing?

"Firewalling" means to push the throttle all the way forward (toward the firewall). It means you're going as fast as you can.


What would pilots do with a "SAM"?

A SAM is a surface-to-air missile, and it's bad news. Take evasive manuevers immediately!


If you have a "tally," you have what in sight?

If you have a "tally," you have an enemy in visual range. At this point, you must remember your rules of engagement. Or, you know, just blow it up because watching things explode is fun no matter the occasion.


If you're in a dogfight and you "bug," what did you do?

If you "bug" out, you're leaving the dogfight. Maybe you got scared, or maybe you just needed a coffee break.


When do pilots do the "Funky Chicken"?

When pilots experience the effects of G-induced loss of consciousness, their bodies flop around involuntarily. It's the "funky chicken," and it is either hilarious or terrifying depending on your sense of humor.


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