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These are some of the terms that you will hear in our shows. This is not all-inclusive. When you hear one that isn’t here, reach out to us and we will work to include it!

AOAAngle of Attack aka “Alpha”: Naval Aviators don’t use airspeed, but rather the angle at which the wing ‘attacks’ the air flowing over the wing. This is the measure of the angle of the relative airstream at the front of the wing and the angle created by the chord of the wing which is an imaginary line through the leading edge to the trailing edge of the wing. The advantage to this is, that regardless of aircraft weight the wing will always stall at the same angle of attack even though the airspeed may be very different. A heavy airplane will reach the critical (stalling) angle of attack and a much higher speed than the same airplane when it is thousands of pounds lighter. This gives the pilots and LSOs a much better idea of how well the wing is flying (developing lift) than any airspeed number which is meaningless unless you know the density altitude, and weight of the airplane and use that information to calculate the speed at which the wing will stop flying. Using AOA eliminates all those calculations.

AOCS: US Navy’s Aviation Officers Candidates’ School. Was at NAS Pensacola, FL. Closed in 2008 and is now part of the larger Navy OCS program in Newport, RI.

Bag: Slang for flight suit.

Ball or Meatball: The Fresnel Lens array gives visual glide-slope information to pilots at Navy & Marine bases and aboard carriers. You can only see the light that shines to your position low, on glide-slope or high. If you’re curious you could look for an explanation of how it works here.

BDA: Battle Damage Assessment. After firing missiles, guns, rockets or dropping bombs one attempts to get an assessment of what the level of destruction on the target was accomplished.

Bingo: Meaning no more fuel to do anything but return to base / carrier / intended point of landing. Flying below this fuel level doing anything but returning to land would constitute the need to declare an emergency due to low fuel.

Blind: Unable to see the other aircraft in the flight or the opposing aircraft in the fight. It’s dangerous and frustrating to lose sight of flight lead or ‘-2’ (pronounced dash two) or ‘-3’ etc.

Break: A tactical maneuver to rapidly get aircraft from a high threat area overhead the airport and into the landing pattern. One flies over the intended landing runway anywhere from 300 to 600+ knots and rapidly banks the aircraft, pulls the throttle to idle, and ‘loads’ the airplane up with G’s which creates drag and slows down the aircraft to a speed to allow deploying the flaps and landing gear.

CNATRA: Pronounced “Sinatra” – Acronym for Chief of Naval Aviation TRAining

CoHorst: Our butchered amalgamation of CoHost and CoHort!

Cross Wind: When the wind is across the direction of flight. This is most critical when trying to land and the wind is across the runway -v- in line with it. When “up and away” flying at altitude a crosswind causes the aircraft to drift and must be corrected. Think of it as rowing a boat across a river. If you point at the dock on the other side, you’ll miss because of the current. You have to steer upstream to get straight across. The currents in the air (jet stream/winds aloft etc) are just like water currents in a river.

DACT: Different Air Combat Training – Fighting ‘Air Combat Maneuvers’ with different types of aircraft. e.g. an AV8B Harrier against an F-14 Tomcat.

DASC: Pronounced ‘dask’ – is the principalUSMC aviation command & control system and the air control agency responsible for the direction of air operations which support ground forces. It is a decentralizedoperation, but directly supervised by the Marine Tactical Air Command Center (TACC) or the Navy Tactical Air Control Center (NTACC). During amphibious or expeditionary operations, the DASC is normally the first Marine Air Command and Control System (MACCS) agency ashore. It coordinates with the ground troops as the unit which provides air support to the troops on the ground.

D.I. – Drill Instructor: In Marine Corps OCS there are at least two for every platoon. Usually a Sergeant (sometimes a really sharp Corporal) known as the “Sgt Instructor” and the Staff Sergeant known as “Platoon Sgt.”

Downwind: Flying around an airport these terms are useful in identifying exactly where other airplanes are. It is standard to land into the wind. After takeoff – turning crossways from the runway is ‘crosswind’. Turning parallel to get back out to do another approach is called downwind. Turning back towards the runway 90º off runway heading is called ‘base’ or ‘base-leg.’ And then lined up with the runway to land is called ‘final’. So the rectangle that one flies around the field is labeled crosswind, downwind, base and final. And just to confuse matters – civilians fly that pattern in a rectangle and military planes fly the pattern in a more oval pattern!

Drill Field: AKA Parade Deck or Grinder. Marine Corps Recruit Depots Parris Island, SC and San Diego, CA as well as OCS stations in Quantico, VA and AOCS in Pensacola, FL. (Aviation Officer Candidates’ School) When an NCO or Staff NCO is assigned duty as a D.I. it is often referred to as the “Drill Field” as one of their primary duties is teaching close order drill to the recruits and candidates. The physical location where close order drill is taught at these duty stations is the parade deck; lovingly referred to as “The Grinder.”

FAM: Pronounced Fam – Short for familiarization. Each new airplane in the flight school syllabus typically starts with systems ground school, followed by the “FAM” stage to familiarize the pilot with the cockpit and the flying characteristics of the airplane.

FARs: Federal Aviation Regulations. The rules which govern all airspace, pilot certification and all things aviation.

FBO: Fixed Based Operator – The business that supports general and sometimes transient military aircraft on an airport. They provide all manner of services from tie-downs, hangar space, mechanical support etc. For lack of a better term – a gas station for airplanes.

FCLP: Field Carrier Landing Practice – the ‘deck’ of an aircraft carrier is painted on the runway and an LSO grades ‘passes’ to the runway as if one is approaching a ship.

FCR: A fire-control radar (FCR) is a radar that is designed specifically to provide information (mainly target azimuth, elevation, range and range rate) in order to direct weapons such that they hit a target. Also used to maintain position relative to other members of the same flight. Thus an “FCR Fail” is dangerous because the pilot loses track of where his flight lead or interval is located.

Feet Wet / Feet Dry: Flying over water or flying over land.

FLIR: Pronounced flir – Forward Looking InfraRed. The method used for night vision – picking up the infrared heat signature off objects to see them in the dark.

F.O.D: Pronounced Fod. Foreign Object Damage. Any foreign object / piece of debris etc. A bolt or a nut on the flight line; a pen in the cockpit, etc. This is dangerous because it can damage an engine if sucked into it or has the potential to jam a flight control in the cockpit from traveling the full distance it’s supposed to.

Foul Deck: The landing area (referred to as the deck on land and at sea) is not clear to land on. Something is in the way… another aircraft, debris etc.

G’s: The feeling the pilot experiences when changing the pitch of the aircraft. (nose up / nose down). Nose up gives positive Gs. Nose down gives negative Gs. Standing on the ground you experience 1 G. Hanging upside down on the monkey bars by your knees you feel 1 negative G. In level flight at 60º angle of bank you feel twice your weight or 2 G’s. Tactical aircraft are routinely capable of 9 G’s.

Gadget Bent: Radar or Laser not working.

G-LOC: Pronounced “G-Lock” – G-Induced loss of consciousness. When pulling positive Gs, the weight of the blood causes it to flow out of your head inducing a rapid loss of consciousness unless counteracted by doing what’s referred to as the “hook” maneuver. It can actually feel very pleasant and like you’re in a dream-like state, but is dangerous because even after regaining consciousness one remains slightly disoriented for several minutes.

Goon: Gooning it up. aka screwing it up badly and obviously. Immediately noticeable to all.

HAM’N: Pronounced “hammin” Blue Angels term for “He Ain’t Movin’ Nothing.” In other words, the Boss (Flight Lead) has set the power and is holding the stick still to be more stable for the other pilots in the formation.

Hook Maneuver: Tensing up every muscle in your body from your feet to your neck and grunting the word hook. This helps you keep oxygenated blood up in your head when experiencing high G loads and keeps you from ‘G-LOCking.’

HUD: pronounced hud. Heads Up Display. Paints important flight instrument data on the windshield focused on infinity so the pilot can see airspeed, altitude, attitude, heading, angle of attack etc without having to ‘go heads-down’ and look inside the cockpit for vital information. One of the most important pieces of info is the ‘pipper’ or ‘velocity vector’ (VV)which displays exactly where the airplane will fly to. So – if you put the VV on the end of the runway, that’s where the airplane will touchdown if nothing is touched to alter the course or glideslope.

ILS: Instrument Landing System. This is a radio signal giving course and glide slope information to a runway. There are 3 different Categories. One thru three. “Cat-1” generally gets you to about 200′ above the runway. “Cat-3” is for autoland – where the autopilot lands the plane.

IP: Initial Point – A point on the ground at a given distance and bearing from a target used to gauge the timing and course inbound to a target.

IP: Instructor Pilot. How do you know which is which? Context, my friends, context.

Jumpin’ Jehosifats: The phrase in the Naval Aviation Safety Magazine, Approach, stated by “Grampaw Pettibone” a cartoon charicature of a crusty old Naval Aviator, when he’s about to describe something that should be obvious to the pilot involved that what he’s about to do is a very bad judgment call.

LPA: Lieutenants’ Protective Association. As the junior officers in a squadron, Lieutenants band together to look out for one another. In the case of Episode 21 they took it to another level and became the Lieutenants’ Revolutionary Front!

LSO: Landing Signal Officer. AKA “Paddles.” The LSO is responsible for working up on land and guiding pilots aboard the aircraft carriers. Due to the motion of the ship, it can be difficult for pilots to notice changing line-up, glideslope etc. The LSO is the second set of eyes providing vital safety guidance. In spite of the LSO “grading” every pass, no naval aviator wants to attempt to come aboard without an LSO watching over them.

LSS: Landing Site Supervisor. The AV-8B Harrier community’s version of LSO. LSS works in confined areas – like a clearing in the trees or an expeditionary field – as well as roads and ships like LHAs and LHDs.

Main Mount: Main landing gear.

“Mar-Div”: e.g. Episode 21 – “Headquarters Battalion, Second MarDiv.” Here’s the way units are comprised generally speaking. Be advised, I am leaving out a LOT of units here for simplicity’s sake. Like in English there are ALWAYS exceptions to this rule! I am leaving out the “fourth” unit in several of these. For example – there are really four companies, not three. So a fourth unit is generally a “headquarters and support” unit – e.g. Alpha Company, Bravo Company, Charlie Company, and H&S Company make up a battalion. Leadership is set up so that a Marine has 3 people reporting to him in the chain of command. There are 4 Marines in a fireteam led by a fireteam leader. 3 fire teams in a squad, 3 squads in a platoon, 4 platoons in a company, 4 companies in a battalion, 4 battalions in a regiment, and 3 to 5 regiments in a division. May I suggest going to the DOD Site to get a detailed description?

MATSG: Pronounced mátsig – Marine Air Training Support Group. Marines go through navy flight school to become Naval Aviators. While aboard the Naval Air Stations they report to and are administratively controlled by MATSG personnel.

M O A: Pronounced “mōa”. Military Operations Area. Special use airspace used by military aircraft. When a moa is “hot” i.e. in use civilian aircraft are kept out in order to reduce the chance of mid-air collisions with high-speed maneuvering military aircraft. *Note – MOST of the time military acronyms are pronounced like words. e.g. ASAP is pronounced as a word, not spelled out A S A P.

NATOPS: The Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) program (pronounced NAY-Tops) prescribes general flight and operating instructions and procedures applicable to the operation of all United States naval aircraft and related activities. The program issues policy and procedural guidance of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) and the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) that is applicable to all United States Navy (USN) and United States Marine Corps (USMC) aviation personnel.[1]

NIFC: National Interagency Fire Center. Pronounced ‘Nifsee’

OSO: Pronounced ōh-sō – Officer Selection Officer. The Marine Corps’ Officers assigned to ‘recruiting duty’ for Officer Candidates that seek to come in through the Platoon Leaders’ Course (PLC) or Officer Candidates’ School (OCS) path; not one of the service academies or ROTC with a “Bulldog” (Marine) Option

OCS: Officer Candidates’ School. Similar to ‘boot camp’ but for officers with a heavy emphasis on leadership skills. Additionally, it should be noted that the ‘trick’ to boot camp was considered to be to find a way to get out. The ‘trick’ to OCS is finding a way to stay in. If you don’t want to be there or are found lacking in integrity you are quickly out of OCS.

Octaflugeron: A ‘mythical’ aerobatic maneuver that no one knows how to do, nor what it looks like. It is a way to describe the aircraft rotating about any and all axises simultaneously. Most often it is referred to as the aircraft state when it goes out of control. Then referred to jokingly as an aerobatic maneuver.

PAR: Pronounced with letters said separately, P A R – Precision Approach Radar – Where an approach controller gives course and glideslope information all the way to the minimum of 200′ with as little as 1/2 mile visibility.

Pass: An approach to a ship or simulated ship painted on the deck of the runway for FCLPs (See FCLPs above) 

Pickle: A switch the LSO holds over his head to remind himself the deck is fouled (not safe to land aircraft.) When the deck is clear the LSO will lower his hand but keep his finger on the trigger. Pulling the trigger turns on the red “wave off” lights signaling the pilot to add full power and go around without attempting to land.

Pickle: A button on the stick that releases the bombs, rockets, and/or other ordnance the airplane might be carrying. It’s also used as a verb. “I pickled early” means I dropped my ordnance too soon.

Pitch Roll & Yaw: An airplane is controllable on three axes. Pitch is the nose attitude of the aircraft as it rotates about the lateral axis of the aircraft. Roll is the rotation about the longitudinal axis of the aircraft and yaw is the rotation about the vertical axis of the aircraft.

PLC: Platoon Leaders’ Course. One of the principal Officer Candidates’ School programs for Marine Corps’ Officer training.

Plank Holder: an individual who was a member of the crew of a US Navy ship or Coast Guard Cutter when that ship was placed in commission. Originally, this term applied only to crew members that were present at the ship’s first commissioning. Today, however, plank holder is often applied to members of newly commissioned units, military bases and recommissioning crews as well.

Potatoes: A way to count seconds. As in: “Give it a couple of potatoes.” The word you say between numbers to ensure you aren’t rushing the timing. e.g. “one-potato, two-potato” to make sure you counted out two full seconds.

Q: Airspeed. In aerodynamics, Q is used in formulas to represent airspeed. Airspeed is also often referred to as, “knots,” and “smash.” e.g. “I came into the break with a ton of smash.” This means coming into the break very fast.

Ramp: When referring to cargo aircraft like the C-17, C-130, and C-5 the back of the aircraft can squat down and lower a ramp to facilitate loading the plane. Additionally, the ramp can be lowered in flight for easy egress of jumpers and extracting cargo in an “air-drop.” On an aircraft carrier it’s the extreme back-edge of the flight deck landing area – also called the round-down.

S A: Pronounced ‘essay’. Situational Awareness.

S A R: Acronym pronounced “Sar” – Search and Rescue. Refers to helicopters, rescue swimmers etc.

Sea Gull: A pilot who doesn’t want to fly. A sea gull is a bird that, by definition, all it does is squawk and shit – and you have to throw rocks at it to make it fly!

Snivel: A request – usually to the flight scheduler – to fly or not to fly on a certain day. By calling it a snivel it is a good way to give a fellow Marine crap for making a legitimate request.

TACAN: Pronounced “tack-an” A ground-based radio station used for navigation. Similar to a VOR with DME if you’re a civilian pilot.

UAV: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle -> “Drones”

VMA VF VFA HMM squadron designations: V is fixed Wing. H is Helicopter (aka rotary wing). M is Marine and Medium. A is Attack. F is Fighter. T is Training. So – VMFA is Fixed Wing, Marine, Fighter/Attack Squadron. VFA is a Fixed Wing Fighter Attack (Navy – note no “M” in the designation.) HMM is Helicopter Marine Medium. VMAT – Fixed Wing Marine Attack Training.

WestPac: Pronounced WestPack – The Western Pacific countries where Marines routinely deploy for several months at a time; Japan, Korea, etc.

WOXOF: Pronounced as “wocksoff” – Weather report terminology for ‘visibility zero, ceiling zero, sky obscured by fog’