Glossary

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!

AOA – Angle 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.

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.

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!

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

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.”

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.”

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.

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

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.

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.

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-LOCing.’

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.

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.

“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 fireteams 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.