a contest. with free stuff.

I’ve been trying to come up with a fitting pilot call sign for a major character from my Great Big Military SF Opus.  So far, she’s wearing a temporary call sign, but I want something different.

Therefore, I’ll have a little contest on this here Interblog.  Anyone can enter, but the pilots and former military types will probably have a slight advantage.

Your task is to come up with a pilot call sign for a female combat pilot.  She’s a Lieutenant, and flies a hybrid gunship/battle taxi as the aircraft commander.  She’s a 100-percenter…you know the kind, top ten percent of her class in anything she’s ever done.  Well-liked and respected in her unit, dry humor, flies a fine stick, and tends toward perfectionism.  Character flaws include a chronic inability to let her hair down, and a by-the-book personality.

Submit your entries in the comments; enter as many call signs as you want.  I’ll choose a winner later this week.

The prize will be a neat little Germany-related Cold War souvenir: a boxed, bagged, and authenticated piece of the Berlin Wall.  Also, I’ll end up using your call sign in Great Big MilSF Opus novels #2 and #3, so there are minor bragging rights involved when they finally make it into print.

Ready? Go!


118 thoughts on “a contest. with free stuff.

  1. planetcaveman says:


  2. Caleb says:


    No, really. The tendancy is to give someone a nickname that’s borderline offensive and clearly opposite their “actual” personality! Plus it’s funny as all hell.

  3. cybrus says:

    Lace or Lacy – short for straight-laced and also a bit of an opposite as she doesn’t sound like the kind of girl to be found in lacy clothing

  4. David says:

    “Queen Bee.” No-nonsense, quite a stinger, and helps protect the hive so to speak.

    Or … Ladyhawke? Hey, it worked for Michelle Pfeiffer!

  5. Bob S. says:

    How about “The Judge” or just “Judge”

    As in the hanging judge or Judge Dredd.

  6. Aaron says:

    I was always rather found of Ice Queen or Queenie.

    It’s not quite accurate, especially if she has a dry sense of humor, but just close enough to rankle.

  7. Madrocketscientist says:


  8. Chronos says:

    call sign Librarian

  9. BryanP says:

    “Bug.” Hung on her by her fellow pilots and whether she likes it or not it stuck. It’s short for “One day we’ll have a funeral when that bug up her ass finally dies.”

    And yes, I’ve used that name for someone for a while, but it was a guy and he eventually decided it was funny.

  10. Ed says:

    Depends on how she looks, but if she’s somewhat typical of the perfectionists club, she’s kind of mousey. So I suggest “Killer Mouse”.

  11. Ruzhyo says:


  12. Jeff says:

    Lincoln –

    Abe was an ugly dude (slightly insulting)
    your description of her character flaws popped dear old Abe’ mugshot into my head. don’t know why…

    Immediately discountable, but funny, suggestions would be Icewoman and Cougar, but the Top Gun references just smack of bad literature.

  13. Tim D says:


  14. HankH says:


  15. Hmm, good at everything but kind of a bitch? How about Hera?

  16. Antibubba says:

    So is a call sign chosen by the pilot, or given by the pilot’s cohorts?

  17. Dirk says:

    Harpy – self-explanatory

    Athena – also self-explanatory, I’m sure.

    Maybe more later.

  18. cybrus says:


  19. Boat Guy says:

    As in “always got her skivvies in a twist”. Could susbtitute “Bunch” if the Anglophone use doesn’t fit.

  20. Bob S. says:

    Anything about the name of the pilot we can use?

  21. MarkHB says:

    Battleaxe? Shrew? Harridan? Rulebook?

    Sounds like she’s more highly strung than a hilltop violin factory. Fiddle? 😉

  22. Leit says:


  23. T.Stahl says:

    During the first years of my studies I had a female colleague. Just 19/20-y.o. but already very lady-like, outscoring all the guys with her IQ.

    We called her Ripley.

  24. Dirk says:

    Scarlett – as in Scarlett O’Hara (from Gone with the Wind)

  25. Dominique says:


    Props to the first one to catch the reference(s).

  26. Matt says:

    Fox. Always assuming she is one of course…

  27. stf says:


  28. Batsel! says:

    Tuesday. As in See You Next

  29. Porter says:

    “Yardstick” – as in that by which everyone else is measured. Also a mean knuckle cracker tool of discipline.

    Can have the smart-asses call her “Yardie” for short.

  30. MeatAxe says:








  31. Slinky says:

    For what it’s worth If she’s a Helo pilot the callsign should be A) related to and embarassing incident. or B) as much of a Non-sequitur as possible.

    I wont say how I got my callsign “Slinky” but stairs were involved.

    Personally I vote for “Diesel”

  32. Stan says:

    Freya, deliverer of warriors to Valhalla.

  33. Porter says:

    2nd and 3rd entries “Warden” or “Mom” (or even Mommy Dearest if they really hate her) Like many female top 10% ers in a “man’s world” she probably couldn’t abide a lot of the standard flyboy antics. Could see them responding “yes Mother” when given instructions.

  34. Owen says:

    Stick, as in “Stick in the Mud,” “Stick up her ass,” “Ugly Stick”

  35. rick says:

    Hammer (nickname Wammer)
    Foxtrot Bravo (aka flaming bitch)

  36. Al T. says:

    Valkyrie… Val for short.

  37. Dirk says:

    You know what’s gonna happen – he’ll look through this whole list, not really like any of ’em, but get inspired by one or more of ’em, and come up with his own. 🙂

  38. Homer says:

    “Sweet.” Short for “Sweetness.” References a ribald verbal conflict with her instructor pilot during training. She won, by the way.

  39. Reuben says:


    I figure it works a number of ways.

  40. Friday (as in the Heinlein character) or maybe for “Girl Friday”

    Skanky (it’s offensive enough!)

    Shank (for a prison knife, or maybe because she has skinny ones!)

    Throttle (for “Full…”, or perhaps because she makes one want to…)

    Buttercup, because it’s so incongruous.

    Daisy, ditto.

  41. Caleb says:

    Actually, Ripley is pretty good.

  42. AnonymousCoward says:


  43. Mr Fixit says:

    How about “Princess”, and behind her back they call her “The Ice Princess”.

    Mr Fixit

  44. Dr. Feelgood says:


    IME naming conventions typically play off the pilot’s given name (Cpt. “Dead” Waite, Maj. “Sportin” Wood), a prominent physical trait (“Gonzo”), or a memorable error in judgment (a young lieutenant was tagged “Magua” for a particularly bad haircut while TDY). Lacking these details regarding your character, I’ll simply adopt the mindset of a group of young hotshot fighter jocks and bestow a callsign describing what they’d like to do.

  45. CeeZar says:

    I once met a female F117 pilot who’s callsign was “Cans”. Even through here jumpsuit, I could tell how she didn’t get that name. Apparently, before her F117 days, she landed at too steep of an angle and scraped the planes engine cans on the runway.

  46. Andrew says:

    I swear I came up with “Razor” before I read Reuben’s entry. D’oh!

    Um, “edge” as in “straight edge,” “razor’s edge” and “edgy.”

  47. Andrew says:

    I had a gal pal with killer legs we called “Gams.”

  48. Jay says:

    Axe, BattleAxe

  49. Friday

    Reference to Heinlein’s ‘Friday’. An artificial person, who always succeeded at anything he tackled, except being human.


  50. Rick R. says:

    Hammer (probably already taken by someone else in the wing)

    Sister, Sis, or Sissy (implying she’s a hard-assed nun like Sister Mary Discipline with the Iron Ruler of Correction)

    Cupcake (just to piss her off)

    Icebitch (a tad cliche)

    Personally, I like “Sissy”. I think it hits the right balance of biting humor and respect you’re looking for. Talk to a few long-term Catholic school attendees if need be.

    Rick R.

  51. Andrew says:

    “Slot.” You could have a lot of fun with that, and would be something that her squadmates would gleefully name her.

  52. Andrew says:

    “Trix” — ostensibly for “aviatrix,” but with some less-wholesome overtones.

  53. Andrew says:

    “Blower” — slang for afterburner, etc.

  54. Andrew says:

    “Jink,” after an exaggerated correction in flight during training.

  55. Hank says:


  56. Mycroft says:

    My first thought was Ripley, too.

    I also thought of:

    Oakley (as in Annie)
    CAB (Cast Iron B*tch)
    Mata Hari

  57. starrgunny says:


  58. Chuck says:

    Elaine (the lily maid of Astolat)

  59. will says:

    black betty!

  60. formerflyer says:

    Almost all call signs are deprecating, not chosen by their recipients, and usually an inside joke. They are almost always something embarrassing to the pilot:
    Lt. Wayne “Soda-pop” Johnson, because he never drinks alcohol and always drinks soft drinks when out with his buddies
    Warrant Dan “Button” Williams, because he always forgot to pass on the dealer button at poker games.
    Lt. “Diaper” Dave Nelson, who had one of those flights you don’t like to talk about, and was so shook up after the landing that, well, he lost control of a couple of minor bodily functions. (This has happened to far more pilots than will ever admit to it)

    Occasionally, if a pilot is exceptionally good at something or has done something way above and beyond and impressed the rest of the unit, you’ll get some sort of a complimentary call sign:
    Capt. Bill “QuickDraw” Davis, for shooting down two enemy helicopters with guns during an aerial ambush of some sort
    Col. John “Wild Thing” Ragle, for constantly volunteering to fly Wild Weasel missions (taking on AAA or SAM’s in a standard aircraft rigged with some special anti-radar, counter radar and air-to-ground gear).
    Maj. Richard “Gunner” Wilson, for zapping lots of difficult ground targets with his A-10 main gun.

    Call signs are seldom shared outside of a unit or a fraternity of similar folks. While members of his unit might call a Brigadier “Goofball” to his face on purely social occasions, or during a mission, to almost anyone else or at almost all other times it would be out of line.

    The biggest exception to the guidelines above is for ones that are obvious takeoffs of the pilot’s name:
    Lt. Dale “Ball-peen” Hammar (Tack, Sledge, Claw, Sheet-rock, Framing, etc)
    Capt. Elle “Pig” Penn
    Col. Dave “Tater” Peeler
    Col. Bill “Kanga” Rew
    Maj. Nancy “Nun” Chuck

    They are seldom about the plane they fly, because everyone else in the unit is flying the same equipment, so nothing unique there. Exceptions would be for SF type units where there might be only a couple of each type aircraft. “Trash-hauler” for the pilots of the Hind type birds (guns and transport). “Speedy” for the Recon or Interceptor types.

    The sign of an author that doesn’t get it is the fictional pilot with a really cool call sign. “Cougar” “Merlin” “Maverick” “Iceman” “Wolfman” are not call signs you’d actually see very often.

    My suggestion would be to pick a name that can segue into an amusing story that can help fill in the background on the pilot. If you want to share the backstory here, we could help with the name. You might try something like “Mother Hen” if she’s protective of her unit, or of her wingman. That might fit in with a tough-gal image. “Scarecrow” if she’s lanky. “Buns” if she’s a bit zaftig. “Zena” for a big, tough Amazon type. “Angel” if she has an image of pulling off tough saves, awarded by the guys whose chestnuts she pulled out of the fire. “Pop-Tart” could be worked up into an interesting story. “Snap-on” could be worked up into a dirty and inappropriate story. “Chalky” could be someone that’s always explaining difficult stuff to people that aren’t quite up to her speed (chalkboard). “Books” could be someone that’s always buy the book and tough. Lots of choices. I don’t know if any of them help.

  61. gaston says:




  62. Scott says:


  63. Tirno says:

    To echo what formerflyer said above, allow me to relate a real-life callsign story told to me by a friend.

    My friend was a section commander in a fighter squadron. She wasn’t a pilot, but she was a fellow officer, all-around go-getter, and so the squadron decided to bring her into the fold, so to speak. An incentive-ride was arranged in a F-15 two seater (can’t remember if it was a -D or -E model).

    After the ride came the naming party. (Forgive me if that isn’t the precise term.) There were certain ceremonies performed. And out came the data recorder, and they reviewed the performance. She hadn’t passed out, or vomited, or anything like that. She had correctly applied anti-G techniques to keep conscious.

    And that was the issue: she grunted, she groaned, she moaned… it sounded like a porn film.

    Someone said it sounded like Debbie Does Dallas, so the callsign “Debbie” was floated, and shot down. “Dallas” was next, and the reception was luke-warm. Someone commented on the moaning, so “Mona” was suggested… and then the stroke of brilliance flashed through the alcohol-sodden primordial stew of perverted pilots.

    “Moaning Dallas”.

    To be used in public as “M.D.”

    So, I haven’t a specific recommendation, but I can recommend a process:
    – Think of an embarrassing story for our straight-laced heroine pilot
    – Get drunk
    – Watch something stupid like the Beavis and Butthead movie or the Southpark movie, while drunk, and let your maturity level drift down to 6th-grade level
    – Then think of your embarrassing story, and conjure something demeaning, yet so far convoluted as an inside joke that no-one will ever get the origin.

    It could be as simple as “Poodle” to reflect a bad hair-do early in her career.

    Or “Clencher”, and a really embarrassing and absolutely filthy story to back it up… or not, leave it to our imagination, simply mention that the more one objects to the name the more it is used. Even better if you mention that Icy-Hot was smeared inside the piss tube of the squadronmate that came up with it.

  64. James says:




  65. Mark says:

    Al T took y idea, Valkyrie, but as an extra I had a female cop friend/associate of mine who we called called Legs, yes she had some very nice ones, but she also ran us into the ground on a foot pursuit and ran down 2 jack rabbit perps who collapsed from running from her.

  66. Matt says:

    *grin* looks like a WHOLE lotta options, and one hell of a choice to make there Marko. Good luck.

    Oh, and BTW, “Peaches”.

  67. Brian says:

    White Queen

  68. David says:

    Not sure why I seem to be stuck on insects, but “Mantis” seems to be pretty appropriate, too. Biting the heads off, etc. Perhaps “Miss Mantis”.

  69. BobG says:

    Kali. No explanation needed.

  70. Dan says:

    Listen to the flyers. I don’t know any pilots with badass sounding callsigns, because for one thing you don’t get to pick your own (Unless you’re one of those douchebags who’ll say shit like “Hi, my name’s Jim, but my friends call me DRAGON”), and for another, they’re usually derogatory, ironic, or an inside joke. For instance, my OIC’s is “Touchdown.” On account of how he’s “gotta touch of Downs syndrome.” That said, my own meager suggestions:
    “Abusive” (Unit’s callsign from Afghanistan, but was the first thing that came to mind.)
    “Noballs” (A common phrase around here. To “noballs” someone is basically a dare, or “you’re a chickenshit if you don’t do this,” which allows for a whole range of possible amusing anecdotes. Also seems to fit as a nickname for a woman in a male-dominated profession.)
    “Gash” (because it’s gross.)

  71. Paul says:

    Lots of good ones. Can’t offer much as I never thought of my self as a wit. Most people who do are about half right.

    So far we know what she has for attributes, but nick names are usually around a flaw. What is her fatal flaw?

  72. Matt says:

    Tampon Drizzle (TD for short).

  73. misbeHaven says:


    As in, Stephanie Zimbalist’s character in “Hunter” was nicknamed The Iron Butterfly. Plus there’s the opposite thing, ’cause butterflies are kinda cute and, well… fluttery. Not the most intelligent species on the planet. Also, could be shortened to BF… and there’re all kinds of places that could go.

  74. Mark Alger says:

    If it were me building this character, I’d try to pick a handle that revealed something about her character. (Duh!)

    My Dolly character got the nickname/handle Baby Troll in her first muster. Being 5’2″ in a unit filled with over-six-footers, she … er … stood out. The DI sauntered up and snarked, “Well, well. What have we here? A baby troll? What’s your name, baby?”

    She answered — being the impetuous smartass she is — “Baby Troll, Sergeant!”

    It stuck.

    Something like that.


  75. Feng_Li says:


  76. Leatherneck says:

    First, make her sexy and attractive to allow you the option of introducing sexual tension and/or encounter if you wish.

    Then flaw her beauty:
    with a beauty mark and call her “Spot.”
    or with too-long canine teeth and call her “Fang.”


  77. Wharf Rat says:

    Wiggles – assuming, of course, that she does

    Buns – a play on the uptight personality with plenty of room for double entendres

  78. skidmark says:

    Female. Got a stick up her butt. Loveable, affable, and probably drinks at least as well as the guys. Etc., etc., etc.


    Just check to see if she’s wearing a pair of USMC boxers or not.

  79. Sean Galt says:

    Pucker- as in factor, which she could provide with outlandish acrobatics; dual reference to being a sour-puss.

    Or, Sweetie. Opposite of personality, based on looks (Sweet) and attitude (tart.)

    I kinda like “Tangy,” too.

  80. Atom Smasher says:


    As in, maybe she pooped them a little on her first night carrier landing space-equivalent.

  81. Riffing on what the real fly-fly boys had to say…

    Marko mentions she’s pathologically unable to let her hair down. How about a name from the one time she did, right after some sort of big event in the career of a pilot (pilots chime in here on an appropriate event)?

    She’s at a said event, and has quietly worked at tying on a drunk of epic proportions. Something happens that offends her drunken sensibilities and she decides to leave. Small problem. Her hair (and it has to be long for this–if it can’t be, this story won’t work) has been tied in a knot around part of the back of the chair by some practical joker.

    She’s too drunk to figure out a better way, and no one will help–they’re all enjoying this way too much. So she whips out a nice long sharp knife and gives herself ashort haircut, walking out in triumph while her locks hang on the chair back.

    “Bob”, anyone? You can also play it as sexual in nature (by playing up the “It happened at a party when she was drunk!” thing when it really isn’t, which would sort of seem to be in the spirit of the thing. 🙂

  82. Don says:

    Iron Maiden – except it’s already been used in a book I’m currently reading. (I didn’t read the 90+ comments before this one, so apologies if you’ve been alerted already)

  83. pdb says:


  84. Daniel says:

    Assuming that the nickname should come from an embarrassing incident, how about “Flaps”?

  85. Snake Eyes says:

    Surprise surprise–101 entries and nobody picked mine:


    As in “Ball Buster” or, better, “Bust ‘er hymen”

    I’m sure there are more…

  86. OrangeNeckInNY says:


  87. Matt says:

    On one hand, I feel like I’m spamming by supplying multiple entries. On the otherhand, Berlin Wall.

    CAM (Cold-Ass Motherfucker)

  88. Will says:


    Slider or Slide

    Sly, or Crusher, with her last name “Stone”

    Stir, as in Stir crazy, stir it up

    Whyu for WIU (wind it up)


    M&M, for Micro Manager

    G.D. for “gear down”, as in she once set a plane down with out landing gear, either faulty gear, or forgot.

    B.D. her private plane is a BD-5 (J model, of course)

    Screamer lots of fun with this

    Ripper as in Jack the

  89. Trigger says:

    TASHA = Tits and a Shit-Hot Ass

    Helen Bed

    Mounds (Almond Joy’s got nuts, Mounds don’t)




    Whistler (why do women parachutists wear jock straps)

    Drapes (Do the curtains match the drapes?)

  90. ArkieRN says:


  91. Jumblerant says:

    nun / none – as in “you ain’t gettin’ none”

    Bristol – not only a plane but also cockney rhyming slang for a pair of breasts

  92. Clint says:

    Hi Ten.

    Popped into my mind halfway through your description.

  93. Clint says:

    Sorry, make that High Ten. As is hair up high, top ten, etc

  94. mike says:

    “Shera” remember Thunder Cats???

  95. Reuben says:

    I know I’m being a bit rude here, but I’m going to trot out “Razor” again, I think it does a number of things well. To start with it is cool. It can have a number of meaning, more if you go for variant spellings. It is not excessively crude or dismissive of the namee.

  96. Antibubba says:

    Based on her personality her call sign should be “Popsicle”, because she’s cold and has a stick up her butt. For short or for places where the full moniker is inappropriate, they call her “Pops”, which is such even more incongruent in based upon her appearance.

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