Last time, we talked a little about some of the lingo that is common among America’s elite when transmitting to your wingmen in the cockpit. We continue this discussion with more terms that will familiarize you with the fighter pilot nomenclature:
Bogey Dope – this is a request for information on the bogey that we talked about last time. For example, if I come up on the radio and ask my controller for “bogey dope”, I am not asking him to give me some illicit drug, I am asking him to point out where the bogey is so I can go find him. Drugs are illegal in the service, and so is shooting a bogey, but asking for “dope” (i.e. information) on the bogey is A-O-K.
Dash 2, 3, 4 – this defines your position in a formation. You’ve got the flight lead. He’s called the “Lead” or the “Leader.” Then all of the airplanes behind him are called “dash-2” “dash-3” and “dash-4.” Here’s a bonus. Two airplanes are called a “section.” Four airplanes are called a “division.” And the second in command of a division is not dash-2, it’s actually dash-3 who is in charge of a section of dash-3 and dash-4. Confused yet? Because I think I am now after reading all of that. So, let’s use a picture…see to the right…that’s a division…lead…dash-2…dash-3…and dash-4.
“Back to the Taxpayers” – this is what you would say if you crashed an airplane. In fact, it’s the exact words a former boss of mine used when he crashed his F-18 in the desert of Arizona. He said…and I quote, “Looks like we gave that one back to the taxpayers.” It’s a somewhat humorous way to deal with a very serious situation. The point of course is that the taxpayers own the airplane (sort of) and by crashing it, he gave it back to them. (Of note, a pilot would never say something like this if someone was hurt in the accident.)
Bent – this is not when something is twisted or distorted, but when something is broken. “My radar is bent.” “My radio is bent.” Etc… Honestly, I have no idea why pilots just don’t say it’s broken or broke. It would convey the same thing. But try as you might, if you tell another pilot that your “radar is broken” he’ll look at you like you just grew an asparagus out of your forehead. It brings up the point that some of these terms don’t work really well in the real world. Try this on for size, “Aw, man, the radio in my car is bent and now I can’t listen to music anymore!” Your friends will then try to figure out how you bent a perfectly good radio. That’s why the wives back on page 1 end up talking to each other while the guys “talk shop.” Sometimes this stuff just doesn’t make any sense outside of our pilot circles.
Splash – this is as cool as it gets. You say this when you’ve shot down an enemy airplane. It comes from the idea that when you shoot them down, the plane falls to the water and splashes. But then again, you probably knew that. What you probably didn’t know was that if I had ever shot down an enemy airplane, I would have probably been so excited that me yelling, “Splash” over the radio would not have sounded so cool.
So, after learning about the fighter pilot lingo, you feel like walking the walk as well as talking the talk? Then let’s get on to implementing your way into that cockpit! And when you “splash” your first MiG-29, do me a huge favor and give me a call to let me know about it!!