Appendix of Military Acronyms and Short Forms

A Literal Translation for the Civil Pilots

    Otherwise Known as JARGON!

Excerpt from “Pulling Pitch”
Stories from the cockpit of a Canadian Military Helicopter Pilot
A work in progress by Stéphane Demers
To be published by “Village Idiot Press”


     PULLING PITCH – Terminology used by military helicopter pilots of my era for departing or taking off in our helos. Since flying consumed our lives we also used this term anywhere and anytime we left a location whether or not we were flying. It was just as good for announcing that you were leaving one bar for another or that you were taking off out of a LZ.

AC – Aircraft Captain

AD – Air Directive, usually a modification or restriction sent out by manufacturers of aircraft to alert to problems or modifications which need to be done prior to continuing to fly said aircraft.

Big 2 (2CFFTS) – Canadian Forces Flight Training School in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan, it was the flight school where all military pilots flew the Tutor jet on their way to getting their wings. Now they fly the Harvard II and only those going onto fighters fly the new Hawk jet. Helo pilots go back to Portage La Prairie Manitoba to get their wings on helicopters there.

CO – Commanding Officer of a Squadron, almost always a pilot with rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

ELT – Emergency Locator Transmitter, not the black box. Usually a little radio mounted in the cabin or tail of aircraft and helicopters. It would go off in the event of a crash and transmit a warbling sound on the emergency frequencies. A haunting sound when you chase them enough times. It always made me tense because once we heard it we never knew if we would find survivors of not.

FE – Flight Engineers, Non Commissioned aircrew who looked after the mechanical aspects of the chopper and worked the rescue hoist plus assisted extensively in the loading and handling of everything that went inside the rear of the helo.

FO – First Officer

FSS – Flight Service Station

GPS – Global Positioning Satellite system, something the helos I flew never had. GPS did not become common on military helos until mid 90’s.

Helos -- Helicopters

Huey – CH135 Bell Twin Huey, Canadian military version of the Bell 212. An awesome pick-up truck of the skies.

ICP – Instrument Check Pilot

IMC – Instrument Meteorological Conditions, when you are actually flying be reference to the flight instruments only and no outside visual reference to the ground is possible.

Lab – CH113A Labrador (Boeing Vertol Voyageur with SARCUP modifications. This stood for Search and Rescue Capability Upgrade. In this upgrade all the aircraft got colour weather radar, large Mitsubishi fuel tanks, new identical instrument panels, identical hoists and new yellow and red SAR paint jobs, but no autopilots or GPS)

IP – Instructor Pilot, they taught how to fly a specific type of aircraft once you already had your wings. To learn to fly up to wings standard was done by a QFI, see below.

LZ – Landing Zone

MED A – Medical Assistant, the military version of an EMT.

MFO – Multi National Force of Observers, Peacekeeping force that came out of the Camp David Accord and operated in Sinai desert.

NAV – A navigator, never on board of Tactical or SAR helos but on the Buffalo that worked with us often in SAR.

NDMC – National Defence Medical Centre, the military hospital in Ottawa.

NG – Ng is the gas turbine acronym. It is the speed of your turbine engine and monitored by a gauge on your instrument panel.

NOCL – Notice of Crash Location. A standard format of message which helped us send information about a crash site such as positive ID of wreckage and the status of the survivors or if they are deceased of course.

NVG – Night Vision Goggles

OC – Officer Commanding a Flight of a Squadron, usually at the Major rank. The CO normally would have several Flight OCs, one for each Flight in the Squadron.

OP – Observation Post, usually for Peacekeeping troops in their area of responsibility.

OPI – Officer of Primary Interest, denotes the one responsible for organizing a particular event or exercise. Most often laughed at by your peers not singled out for the extra work and they refer to you as the Only Person Interested.

QFI – Qualified Flying Instructor, they did all the initial flying teaching before you got your wings. Then you were taught by an IP, see above.

RCC – Rescue Coordination Centres, these were a lot like a 911 emergency operations centre only we dealt with aircraft and ships. When I was flying we had an RCC in Victoria British Columbia, Edmonton Alberta, Trenton Ontario and Halifax Nova Scotia. The Edmonton one has now been closed and it’s area of responsibility taken over by Trenton.

SAR – Search and Rescue, the work I enjoyed the most while flying.

SARTECH – Search and Rescue Technician – These guys would parachute, rappel, scuba dive, mountain climb, hike for miles and all of these were often done in horrible weather and at night. Once they got to an accident scene they would perform life saving medical feats and they would also get the gruesome task of recovering the bodies or parts of bodies of the deceased.

SETTLING WITH POWER (Vortex Ring State) – A condition where your helicopter is in is too steep a descent and too fast a descent that you run out of available power to arrest the descent. Your rotors or wings are essentially stalled and the more power you pull the more you stall the rotor because you are increasing their angle of attack.  You must have enough altitude to be able to dive enough to fly out of it.

SOP – Standard Operating Procedure, a favourite military acronym.

ST – Search and Rescue Technician, see above.

TACAN – Tactical Air Navigation system, basically a military version of VOR/DME.

TRANSLATION – A phase of helicopter flight where the helo goes from hovering to forward flight. Usually causes a small shudder as it noses over and finally gets the rotor flying forward.

WOXOF – An aviation term meaning zero cloud height and zero visibility, you can’t see your hand in front of you.

Note from the Editor.   Now anyone can understand the lingo of the military jock. Just print this page out and keep it handy when you read the stories by Stéphane Demers and Dan Grossman.

Medical Evacuations are usually anything but routine. Three in one day, however, can make a pilot wonder if this type of flying can become a way of life. Stéphane assures us that for the SAR teams, medivacs are a way of life.
* Three Medivacs

Use the Attitude Indicator as your Guide Back to Friends.

Top of this story.

Editor John S Goulet


Last modified on March 05, 2006 .
© Virtual Horizons, 1996.