Here we dive into a collection of the 50 funniest call signs from the aviation world, showcasing the creativity and humor that thrive among those who conquer the skies.

Each call sign is a glimpse into a story, a quirky trait, or an unforgettable event that earned its bearer a nickname echoing through cockpits and across airwaves around the globe.

Funniest Call Signs for Pilots

How Pilots Get Their Call Signs

There are a few common ways that pilots end up with their call signs:

Based on their name: Many call signs are related to the pilot’s actual first or last name through rhyming, alliteration, or abbreviation. For example, “Ferg” for Ferguson, “Chewy” for Chevalier, or “Smash” for Ashmore.

From a memorable incident: Call signs are frequently inspired by a funny or embarrassing moment the pilot had, either in training or on the job. For instance, “Puddles” for someone who spilled their drink, or “Bambi” for a pilot who cried easily.

Given by their squadron: New pilots are often assigned a call sign by their fellow squadron members shortly after joining the unit. These are completely arbitrary and meant to be humorous or mildly insulting.

Chosen by the pilot: In rare cases, pilots are allowed to select their own call sign. But this often backfires, as the rest of the squadron will quickly veto an egotistical or boring choice.

So while call signs are supposed to be light-hearted, not everyone appreciates getting tagged with an embarrassing or mocking nickname.

BUT, complaining about a call sign only leads to something worse, so most pilots grudgingly accept whatever name they are given.

Now, let’s get into it!

Naughty Deed Call Signs

  1. Puddles – Spilled a drink in a superior officer’s lap during a bumpy flight, drenching the officer’s trousers.
  2. Bambi – Struck a deer while landing on a short runway, damaging the aircraft’s nose gear.
  3. Stanky – Passed gas in an enclosed cockpit, much to the discomfort of the co-pilot.
  4. Splash – Vomited airsickness due to extreme turbulence, creating a mess in the cockpit.
  5. Jailbird – Spent a night locked up during shore leave after a drunken disorderly incident.
  6. Boomer – Landed gears-up and slid down the runway, scraping up the belly of the aircraft.
  7. Tires – Blew not one, but two tires in a rocky crosswind landing, skidding off the runway.
  8. Midnight – Got lost and had to make an embarrassing emergency landing at night in a cornfield.
  9. Dingwing – Collided with the maintenance hangar’s upper doors, crumpling the wingtip.
  10. Popsicle – Froze up and failed to handle an in-flight emergency, forcing the co-pilot to take over.
Top 50 Funniest Call Signs for Pilots 1

Movie & TV Inspired Names

  1. Maverick – Obviously from the Top Gun fighter pilot character made famous by Tom Cruise. Would only be given ironically.
  2. Jedi – An aspiring pilot’s dream call sign, though the pressure to live up to the name might be too much.
  3. Goose – Maverick’s ill-fated co-pilot in Top Gun. Not a name you’d actually want due to the tragic fate.
  4. Iceman – Maverick’s rival in Top Gun, known for being cool under pressure. A respected call sign.
  5. Viper – The commander of the elite Top Gun school. A badass name for a skilled pilot.
  6. Merlin – The wizard from medieval legends was said to fly without wings, making it an apt name for a pilot.
  7. Nova – Refers to Sam Neill’s character in the quirky indie film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.
  8. Wedge – Luke Skywalker’s gunner in Star Wars. Simple but strong.
  9. Starbuck – The hotshot pilot from Battlestar Galactica. A bold but disputed call sign.
  10. Apollo – The call sign of Tom Hanks’ character in Apollo 13. Commemorates NASA’s missions to the moon.

Appearance-Related Call Signs

  1. Shortstack – For shorter pilots who may need help reaching the flight controls.
  2. Slim – A skinny pilot who fits easily in the cramped cockpit.
  3. Bonsai – For smaller Asian pilots. Considered offensive today.
  4. Baldy – A pilot losing his hair or with a receding hairline.
  5. Redwood – A very tall pilot who stands out in his squadron.
  6. Pops – An older pilot with plenty of gray hair and beard stubble.
  7. Kanga – A pilot with large protruding ears.
  8. Kickstand – A tall gangly pilot with thin legs like the bike stand. Offensive today.
  9. Jugs – An unfortunate call sign occasionally given to well-endowed female pilots.
  10. Vanilla – A bland white guy with no distinctive features.

Name-Related Call Signs

  1. Faucet – Last name Flood.
  2. Range – Last name Rover.
  3. Sails – First name Christopher, for the explorer Columbus.
  4. T-Bone – Last name Porterhouse.
  5. Crunchy – Last name Granola. Yes, it was his real name!
  6. Soda – Last name Poppins.
  7. Mayday – First name Marvin.
  8. Budda – First name Chris. Full name Chris P. Bacon.
  9. Wrongway – Last name Corrigan, named for the infamous off-course pilot.
  10. Dash – Last name Boardman.

Naughty & Nice Call Signs

  1. Casanova – A pilot with a penchant for romancing the ladies.
  2. Rico – Aggressive female pilot who is heavily armed when not flying.
  3. Candy – Given to attractive female pilots. Now seen as sexist.
  4. Dirty – A pilot with a reputation for off-color jokes.
  5. Snake – A sneaky or untrustworthy pilot.
  6. Captain Chaos – Co-pilot who often disagrees with the captain.
  7. Sparky – For pilots who don’t excel in the classroom.
  8. Chips – A pilot who frequently drops his checklist or kneeboard.
  9. Taxiway – A clueless pilot who gets lost easily.
  10. Mayday – A panicky pilot who frequently declares emergencies.

So those are 50 funny, odd, and outrageous aviation call signs that pilots have earned thanks to their own mishaps, personality quirks, and squadron comradery.

Part badge of honor, part hazing ritual, call signs give pilots an identity within their aviation community.

Just hope you end up with more Jedi and Maverick, and fewer Stanky and Dingwing!

NEXT: You can read about the aviation radio communications phrasing known as NATO phonetic alphabet or the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet.

“You’ve Got Control”

Over to you now, please share your funny call sign story in the comments.