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Code name Woodstock

From "Woodstock" to "Loctite": how the AIRPOWER pilots got their call signs.

Why fighter pilots are referred to by nicknames instead of their given names – and the inspirations for the call signs of the AIRPOWER pilots.

Anyone who's seen the movie "Top Gun" will know: once a pilot has earned his spurs, his cohorts give him a nickname, or call sign. It can either be playful or respectful. In some way it is a reflection of the pilot, is used in radio conversations and rapidly takes the place of the pilot's given name – just like "Maverick", "Iceman" or "Viper" in the classic movie.

From "Woodstock" to "Loctite"...

Unique call signs are not just for the movies, they are actually given to aviators. AIRPOWER Display Director and Eurofighter pilot Major Dietrich Springer, for instance, has the call sign "Woodstock". Why? "I was born in 1969. And I love sixties rock music." Another fellow Eurofighter pilot is known by the call sign "Loctite", owing to his lack of hair and his resemblance to the bald character in the superglue advert.

... and from "Barba" to "Arquette"

The aerobatic pilots have also come up with some cool call signs for each other. Major Ruben Pérez, squadron leader of Spain's Patrulla Águila, is known to his fellow pilots as "Barba". "I spent two years of flight training in Texas," he explains, "and I was the only one in the group with a beard. So it wasn't long before they nicknamed me 'Barba'." The story behind the call sign of the squadron leader of France's Patrouille de France is also fairly unspectacular: "Tof" is merely short for Christophe Dubois. Another Patrouille pilot, however, is named after a minor character in the movie "Pulp Fiction": "Arquette" is the name of the actor who in one memorable scene shoots wildly at John Travolta (Vincent) and Samuel L. Jackson (Jules) and misses every time – and Jules declares their lucky escape a miracle.

  • Eurofighter Pilot © Bundesheer
    Eurofighter Pilot © Bundesheer
  • Major Dietrich Springer Eurofighter © Bundesheer
    Major Dietrich Springer Eurofighter © Bundesheer
  • Pilot © Bundesheer
    Pilot © Bundesheer
  • Patrulla Aguila Team Leader Perez © Bundesheer Andreas Macher
    Patrulla Aguila Team Leader Perez © Bundesheer Andreas Macher