United Confederation of Interstellar Planets
Starfleet Aerospace Corps Flight School
Written by Commander Thomas Jameson, Wing Commander, 310th Fighter Wing “Warriors of the Sky”

-Version 1.5 revised by LtCol Derek Hoppe with help from Jack-Dean
-Version 1.6 revised by Maj Sam Thorten
-Version 1.6.02 by Brooksby
-Version 2.0 by Cmdr Thomas ‘Dixie’ Jameson

I. Introduction

Balduris 4 – Home to aspiring pilots and veteran instructors. Deep within its asteroid fields and testing grounds are the training facilities where hundreds of years of experience in the cockpit are used to turn ordinary men and women into the stellar dancers of the Starfighter. It is an elite corps you join, those of the Starfighter Pilot. Upon passing your exam you will be awarded the one thing a pilot covets most: his wings.

This course is designed to show you what it is to be a pilot. You will go through the organizational structure of the Fighter Squadron, the duties expected within a Fighter Squadron and – most importantly – how to fly your craft.

You are a symbol of the Federation, and it is your duty to uphold its principles and values every time you put on your wings. Your career may require you to escort high-priority diplomats, or to protect the Federation’s borders from the threat of enemy attacks. In any of the missions you are asked to fly, remember that you are trained by the best, and you are there in that cockpit to do your best. It is hoped that after completing this course and using the information that you learn here, that you will go on to take the Advanced Flight Training course to learn the skills necessary for dogfighting.

II. The Fighter

There is no one general ‘fighter’. Advancements in technology and weapons have led to the development of an uncounted number of craft from all throughout the galaxy, all similar in design yet vastly different in capabilities. But fighter craft can be broken down into two distinct categories: Fighters and Bombers. These two categories can further be broken down into five different types of fighters, and three types of bombers.

1. The Scout
Scout craft are fast, agile and packed full of observational equipment so that they can get a clear view of everything going on around them. These typically small craft are generally stealthier than their other fighter counterparts, but are not nearly as well armed. The scout is designed to do just that – scout. It performs this in a variety of ways, from forward observation for large fleet movements, to reconnaissance missions within unknown or enemy territory. These ships aren’t meant to stick around when a fight breaks out; their engines are fast enough to outrun their pursuers, and her shields are strong enough to keep her precious sensor data intact.

2. The Interceptor
Commonly found in the hangar or airbase facilities of starbases and colonies, Interceptors are intended to intercept and engage inbound threat forces while well outside of a zone of threat against the starbase or colony that they are assigned to protect. These craft have better range and speed than other fighters (except for Scouts) and are well armed and shielded to engage the enemy. Interceptors are typically better armed to engage targets at long range with micro-torpedoes or other air-to-air weaponry. A primary role of the Interceptor is to engage any and all inbound bombers before they can reach optimal range, and destroy them.

3. The Space Superiority Fighter
The true dogfighters, Space Superiority Fighters are not as fast as the Interceptor, but just as well armed and shielded, with incredible maneuverability. These ships are the anti-fighter fighters, meant to engage and destroy enemy fighters and bombers. Their drawback is a lack of extended range the Interceptor can offer, but during close-in fighting their pulse phasers and short-range air-to-air weaponry make them a very formidable craft in the right hands. This makes the Space Superiority fighter ideal for small-target attacks, escort duty, or patrol. Their versatility also allows them to double as Strike Bombers with the right modifications, and has earned them the name of Multi-Role craft.

4. Heavy Assault Fighter
Another class of very versatile fighter craft, the Heavy Assault Fighter is more of a true blending between the Space Superiority Fighter and the Strike Bomber. They are strong enough to be used in engaging small capital ships as well as going toe-to-toe with other fighter craft. Heavier weapons and shields make it slightly slower and less maneuverable than a Space Superiority fighter, but against capital ships they are able to last longer and deliver a bigger punch.

5. Atmospheric Fighters
Though Starfleet and the Federation have a distinct Aerospace presence and easily recognizable fleets of fighter craft, the member worlds of the Federation each have their own defense designs when it comes to protecting their worlds and installations. Most member worlds employ Atmospheric fighters, which may not have the power of their interstellar counterparts but make up for it in the aerodynamics used in their design. This increases their maneuverability in atmosphere, as Starfighters do not normally have to take into account atmosphere for their flight dynamics. All Starfighters are atmospheric capable, but the handling of each class of fighter may become completely different in atmosphere than in space.

6. Strike Bomber
Strike Bombers are designed much like a surgical instrument; mission profiles depend upon weapons loadout and the fighter class’ abilities. These types of craft are used to engage enemy starships, but are not powerful enough to destroy them; instead, they carry weaponry able to penetrate and/or disable key systems of an enemy starship. Their reasonable top speed and good maneuverability keep them from requiring fighter escort during combat.

7. Heavy Bomber
Heavy Bombers are more of what the traditional bomber is all about. Large, heavily armored, loaded down with heavy weapons but slow and sluggish. Heavy bombers are intended for assault on capital ships, intent on getting close in and unloading salvo after salvo of torpedoes and other heavy weaponry. Self-defense weaponry of these bombers is rare if any, but they are better protected with heavy shields and hull armor. Heavy Bombers are most often accompanied by fighter escorts to engage and ward off any Interceptors that may be dispatched.

8. Assault Bomber
Behemoth is the first word that may come to mind when considering this type of bomber. These bombers are massive compared to the Heavy Bomber and Strike Bomber, with near double the payload and twice the strength in shields and hull armor. Their purpose is the assault of starbases, planets, shipyard facilities, and also the largest of capital ships. Despite their heavy defenses, which can include automated phaser turrets, fighters always escort Assault Bombers.

III. The Basics of Flight

Now that you are familiar with the different types of fighter craft you may end up flying, it’s time to teach you the important stuff – like how to keep from nose-diving into a celestial body. Flight controls between fighter classes will differ, but most all follow the same general principles described below. Your intimate knowledge of how to operate these systems is the only thing that will keep you alive while you are out there on your own. No matter how good your wingman is, you have to be just as good to take full advantage of that.

The Cockpit Welcome to the toughest environment you will ever be in. During the heat of an engagement, a fighter pilot is tasked with tracking not only his own movement and the movement of his squadron, but enemy ships, incoming weapons fire, and any and all celestial bodies that may be in the immediate vacinity - This includes asteroids, comet fragments, moons and humanoid-constructed facilities. Fortunately, the layout of a fighter’s cockpit is designed to make all of this just a bit easier to manage.

The primary flight control of a fighter has not changed much since the early days of humankind’s first flight. The throttle, located to the pilot’s immediate left, controls thrust from primary impulse (or other forms of sublight propulsion). The flight yoke controls directional movement: roll to port or starboard, pitch up and pitch down. Firing controls for primary and secondary weapons are found on the flight yoke for ease of access, but can also be programmed for use by voice command at pilot’s discretion. ‘Rudder’ pedals at the pilot’s feet control the RCS thruster packages that maintain the craft’s turning capabilities.

In front of the pilot lies customizable LCARs instrumentation, including fuel and sensor readouts, speed, and communications gear. This instrumentation can also easily be changed to show altitude, yaw, pitch, and airspeed for atmospheric flight. Fighter damage schematics and weapons loadout are indicated by the panels directly to the right of the pilot, as well as shield status. Damage reports can be programmed for voice recognition and reporting. This is optional, as some pilots may find this too distracting in the heat of battle.

Some fighter craft are dual-person craft instead of the more recognizable single-seat fighters. The RIO - or Rear Instrument Officer – utilizes extra sensor readouts and secondary weapon configurations (such as torpedoes or other heavy ordinance) located on panels surrounding them. Target acquisition can be done by the RIO to assist the pilot in better accuracy and efficiency in a dogfight or other engagement. The RIO also has the option with their LCARs console to take over flight control in emergency situations. This is in case the pilot is incapacitated or killed.

The HUD, or Heads Up Display, provides target acquisition capabilities for the Pilot and/or RIO. This holographic display takes incoming sensor data and ‘highlights’ objects viewed through the canopy to help the Pilot more easily distinguish between threats and non-threats. The HUD also displays speed and range to target so that the pilot does not have to lose critical seconds viewing his console indicators.

Some of the most important equipment a fighter carries is here in the cockpit; and no, it’s not just the pilot. Each fighter in a squadron carries an IFF, or Identification Friend/Foe transponder. This transponder constantly sends out an encrypted signal that is recognized by friendly units so that the chances of friendly fire incidents are greatly reduced. This transponder also provides useful speed, heading and range information to any command & control units in the area.

The Flight Data Recorder maintains an accurate and safe log of all sensor data and ship readouts during the course of a fighter’s use, so that an accurate account of events can be used in the investigation of unfortunate mishaps or other untimely ends. In tandem with this, the ‘gun camera’ tracks performance and tactics during engagements, and records accuracy results from weapons fire from the fighter. This sensor accurately confirms kills and successful attack runs by the pilot.

All of these systems combined provide the nerve center from which a fighter’s sharpened teeth can sink into the enemy. A pilot’s knowledge and experience with his cockpit are the only ways he can learn to survive and fly long enough to be the best of the best.

IV. Fighter Operations

Now that you know the basics about what you’ll be flying, let’s take a look at what kind of missions you might be called upon to perform while in the hot seat.

1. Mission Types

A fighter is a tool – one of many in a vast organization charged with the exploration and defense of the members of the Federation. This tool is very versatile, and as such fits a variety of missions and duties with a minimum of adjustment. Some fighters are better suited than others, but the following should show you to expect anything.

A. Interception – The most important skill taught to all pilots is the art of air-to-air combat; these skills are most put to practice when tasked to intercept and engage the enemy. These missions will require you to engage the enemy at sufficient range to keep them from damaging that which you are tasked to defend. These can be some of the more strenuous mission types to undertake, and a more likely to have the odds against you.

B. Strike – Air-to-ground combat is another of the primary skills taught to all pilots. These missions put those skills to great use by tasking you with disabling or destroying ground targets or capital ships. These missions may also be in support of ground forces in the area, so great care and precision is needed in being able to deliver your payload with the greatest positive result as well as the minimum negative impact to allied forces. These missions will also test your maneuvering skill, as you will have to close within a minimum range for delivering your ordinance while avoiding heavy enemy fire. Remember, they don’t want the bomb you’re about to give them.

C. Assault – The Assault mission differs from the Strike mission in that your primary task is to suppress enemy fire and movement to assist in the transport of ground troops into the area to engage the enemy. These require a great amount of coordination between ground and air forces for maximum effectiveness.

D. Patrol – Patrol missions can vary widely from situation to situation, and can include: escorting friendly vessels; providing combat air patrol to allied forces in a hostile environment; surveying uncharted territory, or otherwise gathering intelligence on a section of space; and by participating in the sweep of an area of space to secure it. In any case a pilot must keep on his toes and be ready to investigate any anomalies that may crop up on his sensors.

E. Courier – Though these are rarely performed by fighters, shuttle pilots may be called on to ferry VIP’s or important equipment or data from one point to another. These usually are of the highest priority and require the utmost speed and secrecy.

F. Search and Rescue – One of the most dangerous and respected jobs to undertake, the search and rescue mission requires pilots to go into a combat zone unarmed to locate and retrieve downed pilots.

G. Medivac – Similar to the Search and Rescue mission in terms of danger and respect, medivac missions usually require low terrain flowing and low ingress/egress to a landing zone. These zones are also usually in a hot combat zone to retrieve wounded ground troops and evacuate them with minimal weapons and defensive countermeasures.

Not all types of missions are listed here – a unit commander may be tasked with completing objectives that do not fall within normal mission parameters. So long as training and good communication exists within the unit, and the unit can perform well as a team, these objectives should be able to be completed as best as is possible by the unit.

2. Unit Structure

In order to become effective in engaging the enemy and presenting a clear and secure presence in any area of space, there must be structure. From the largest fighter groups to the lone element, structure and discipline is in place to maximize effectiveness in combat or in peacetime.

A. The Fighter – The base level of organization.

B. The Element – Comprising of two fighters. Most senior pilot assumes the role of Lead or Element Leader, while the second operates as the lead’s Wingman. Basic patrol flights may be flown by a single element.

C. The Flight – Consists of two Elements. Flight Leader is assigned to the most senior element leader of the four.

D. The Squadron – The most basic ‘full’ unit in space aviation. Fleet squadrons consist of three Flights, each with a flight leader. Marine squadrons consist of four full flights. The Squadron Commanding Officer is the senior-most Flight Leader of the three/four flights.

E. The Wing – Wings can vary in size, but are roughly between three and five squadrons in strength. A Wing Commander is the senior-most pilot of all squadron commanders, and usually has many years worth of experience in the cockpit. Wing Commanders may head up one of the Squadrons of the wing as a Squadron CO, or he may ‘fly a desk’ during his tenure. Wings normally consist of multiple squadrons of the same fighter, or multiple squadrons with the same basic role.

F. The Group – A Group is the largest measured unit of fighters, consisting of three to five Wings. Groups can consist of any number of fighter roles and classes, and are usually only called upon in large fleet-sized engagements. The Group Commander is the senior-most Wing Commander of all Wings.

3. Fighter Alert Status

Being a fighter pilot requires that you be able to be ready to go in the blink of an eye. At any time the scramble order could come and you must be in the air as quickly and safely as possible – and there are some rare instances where safety is an option. The following will help to prepare you in what to expect in the described situations.

Condition Blue / Stand Down – Issued when current immediate area (be it sector or star system) are deemed sufficiently secure for personnel to engage in shore leave. Called condition blue when aboard a carrier vessel, due to the high possibility that the ship itself is hard docked to a station. Pilots are allowed to relax and shore leave may be granted. Major maintenance and overhauls on spacecraft and equipment can be conducted, as well as testing new ideas for equipment.

Condition Green – Standard operational readiness for the unit is observed. Pilots are on duty on standard shift assignments, tending to maintenance and training when not in the cockpit. Usually an element is maintained on hot standby, with a second element reserved on five-minute alert status.

Condition Yellow – Events involving ship or airbase that are considered dangerous or possibly hostile invoke condition Yellow. A full flight is brought to hot standby, while the remainder of the squadron is brought to five-minute alert status. Minor repairs are carried out, so long as craft are readily available for the mission. Alert shifts go into effect, where pilots operate on rotating shifts to maintain readiness, while those off duty observe restrictions on off duty activities to maintain a pilot’s readiness.

Condition Red – Hostile threat is imminent or a combat situation is quickly unfolding. All ships are brought to hot standby with launch status being deemed imminent. All personnel are restricted to the flight center.

4. Take-off / Landing Procedures

Regardless of how you get into the air, there are certain things that must be seen to even before you sit down in the cockpit. Preflight checks must be made on all systems, so that you can ensure that your fighter is in the best shape for your mission. Here is a general guide to help you what to look for.

Preflight Checklist: • Basic fighter inspection – check that all panels and access points are secured; that the craft is free of debris that might damage it during use; visually check external weapons – torpedo pylons, phaser cannon lenses, ECM packages, sensor pallets, thruster nozzles, etc.
• Once entering the cockpit, basic diagnostics should be run on all systems as they are brought online.
• Engine checks should be made
• Flight control checks
• Inertial dampeners and structural integrity field checks
• Communications check with Flight Ops
• Sensors diagnostic – active sensor systems should not be activated at any time before takeoff.
• Navigation and astrogation system checks
• Defensive equipment checks
• Weapons system checks. Weapons are to remain unarmed until the fighter has launched and proceeded to minimum safe distance from landing/takeoff zone.

Once these checks are completed, it never hurts to go back through them if you have additional time. After launch, weapons and sensors can be brought fully online and should be checked again.

Now we can get to the real flying! The only way you can ever get out there and engaging the enemy is if you take off – now it’s time to show you how! There are three type of takeoffs: Airfield takeoffs, Flight Deck or Shuttlebay takeoffs, and Tube or Rail takeoffs.

Airfield Takeoffs
Planet-based facilities utilize airfields for the launching and landing of their fighters and other air/space vehicles. Takeoffs from these facilities involve a rolling takeoff, unless under direct attack. These types of takeoffs conserve energy and power by allowing the natural forces of lift to bring the fighter into the air. Vertical takeoffs are reserved for use only when under direct attack, due to the dangers of popping up in front of another fighter that is moving horizontally.

After preflight checks are made and your fighter is powered up and ready for launch, the pilot requests permission from Flight Control (sometimes called the Tower) and receive instructions on joining other craft (if any) on the flight line for launch. After taxiing to the end of the runway, clearance is requested for takeoff.

When clearance is received, the wheel brakes are disengaged, and full power is given to thrusters. The pilot must use good judgement in order to determine if he has enough power to attain takeoff speed before running out of runway room for a safe stop – a primary concern if mechanical difficulties occur. The pilot must lift the nose of the craft up without dragging the tail of the craft on the ground, and attain enough velocity that the craft can leave the ground. As speed generates lift, the craft will begin to rise from the runway. The pilot then should pull up at a moderate rate to ascend to a safe altitude; too shallow, and there is the possibility of hitting tall ground objects. Too steeply, and the craft may stall, and at this altitude a stall is unrecoverable.

Shuttlebay/Flight Deck Takeoffs
Shuttlebay launches are common due to the fact that most all Starfleet capital ships have at least a primary shuttlebay. When launching from these facilities, clearance for launch is requested by the pilot from the Flight Ops center. Flight Ops will ensure safe takeoff by utilizing sensors to find a clear flight path. Once the flight path is established and clearance for launch is given, the pilot will engage antigravs to lift the craft off the deck to a height of one to two meters. Next, the pilot will maneuver the craft towards the bay doors. After clearing the doors, thruster power is increased to maneuver towards the assigned flight path. Main engines are not to be engaged until the bay doors are cleared, to prevent endangering facility personnel and equipment.

Tube or Rail Takeoffs
Carrier vessels utilize what is known as tube or rail launches. These launches use specialized equipment that accelerates a fighter craft to a high initial velocity to clear the ship faster and allow for the largest number of fighters to be launched in the shortest amount of time.

Flight path assignment is more critical here than any other launch a pilot can perform, due to the number of craft launching and in the air. Once flight paths are set by Flight Control, the craft is taxied to the launcher (sometimes called a catapult). Ground crew will secure the craft to the launching mechanism, and give an all clear when the craft is ready for launch. Last-second checks are made, and readiness is communicated between pilot and ground crew via hand signals. At this point, it is advisable that the pilot relaxes and sits back in his seat, with engines at minimum power and ready for an exhilarating start to his flight.

The launch operator will announce the all clear, activating the launcher. Once activated, the launch sequence cannot be aborted. The craft is accelerated down the tube/rail from 0 to 300 kph in a matter of 50 meters. This launches the craft a significant distance from the ship, allowing the pilot to engage full thrust and attain his prescribed flight path. It is essential that a pilot try to relax before launch, as this sudden acceleration is faster than even the most sophisticated inertial dampeners can compensate for. Once the craft is clear of the launcher, the pilot is to follow their assigned flight path and rendezvous with the rest of their group.

Landing Procedures
The most important part of the mission to any pilot – coming home. But what do you do? How do you do it? Just as you must make sure everything is ready before you take off, you must make similar checks before you land.

Pre-landing Checklist:
• Contact Flight Operations for instructions
• Ensure that weapons are ‘safe’
• Ensure that sensors are ‘safe’
• Check that engines and thrusters are functioning properly
• Check that fuel/power is sufficient for landing maneuvers or for last-minute switching to another landing site
• Ensure that Ejection system is operational
• Ensure landing gear and/or antigravs are functioning properly
• Obtain updates from Flight Operations concerning all information that could affect your landing
• Acknowledge landing instructions

By setting your weapons and sensors to safe mode, you are not completely powering them down; This is meant to ensure that these systems cannot be triggered accidentally, and also lets these systems remain available if a wave off or sudden combat situation occurs.

Because of the precision required in making sure that every ship touches down without incident, airfields and launch facilities will require craft maintain a holding pattern near the base so that traffic can be spaced out to avoid midair mishaps. Holding patterns are also used during takeoffs, when combat fighters that have already launched are awaiting the remainder of their unit to join them.

Flight Control vectors craft in for landing according to any and all conditions involving the base and the immediate area that affect the landing and takeoff of craft. With these variables they assign approach patterns for craft, which differ from facility to facility and craft to craft. The approach pattern allows the craft to gradually descend and reduce their speed in preparation for landing, and to do it all in a highly controlled airspace to avoid collisions. When a craft leaves the pattern to head for the runway, this is called final approach. The brief period a craft has over a runway just before touchdown is called short final.

At airfields, craft with VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) abilities are given a slightly different final approach; instead of aligning with the runway, the craft are aligned to marked off sections that are sometimes designated as landing pads. These landings require the same reduction in speed in order to touch down on the pad safely. A rolling landing requires a slow descent to the runway with the nose up, allowing the craft to drop the last meter or so to the tarmac. The craft is then taxied to its assigned revetment before final shutdown and postflight inspection.

Carrier Landings
Because of the tighter precision that is required to land on a carrier versus landing on an airfield, these vast squadron and wing homes employ a Landing Signal Officer, or LSO, to guide pilots in to the correct pattern for approach. The LSO signals the pilot once he has been cleared for final approach, asking him to ‘call the ball’. This is a simpler way of acknowledging whether or not the pilot has the landing target (referred to as a meatball, due to its size and orange color) in sight. The pilot must acknowledge his line-up with the target, or he is immediately waved off and must come around for another pass.

The LSO, from his small station above the landing doors of the flight deck, has eyes unmatched in keenness. Through his porthole and sensors, he can ascertain whether or not the pilot is lined up correctly for landing, even at the extremes of visual range. By lining the pilot up on the meatball, the LSO directs the pilot into the ‘funnel’, or range of the landing tractor beams. If the pilot maintains his course evenly and reaches the funnel, the tractors are activated and he has made a successful trap. He can then shut down his engines and let the beam bring him in. If the fighter comes in too fast or too loose (meaning too outside the funnel or too close to the extremes of the funnel’s range), he is waved off and must come around for another try. This is referred to as a bolter.

Wave-offs can occur if the pilot’s approach is unsafe, if there is a malfunction with the ship’s landing equipment, or if the deck is not ready to receive another craft (referred to as a foul deck). During these instances the LSO can hit what is called a pickle switch, which is in the LSO’s hands at all times during landing operations. This changes the landing target’s signal to a flashing red beacon to warn the pilot and signal the wave off. The pilot should pull up away from the craft and increase thrust to full power and clear his approach pattern. Once clear of the landing zone, the pilot must contact Flight Ops for vectors back into the landing pattern.

5. Briefing / Debriefing Procedures

A. Briefing – Prior to any planned mission, the unit commander (be he Squadron, Wing or Group Commander) will usually address his or her pilots on the particulars of what they are about to do. He receives his orders from the CO or XO, and must pass these orders on to his personnel. This may be done with each pilot individually if each is assigned a separate task or the Squadron as a whole if all objectives are the same. As a form of training, the Squadron CO may assign his Flight Leaders to conduct the briefings of their flights, and observe their performance.

In any case, what is covered in the briefing is always the same: the objective(s); pilot assignments; flying conditions; and what is expected to occur during the mission. Pilots and staff should voice any concerns or questions they have during the mission at this time, before the fighters are loaded and the mission is well underway. After the briefing is the actually flight of the mission, so it is imperative that everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them without any doubts.

B. Debriefing – Once the mission has been completed and all craft have returned to hangar, a second meeting is held by the unit commander to go over the mission’s completion. At this time any and all grievances – from pilots or commanders – are aired. Any and all damage to individual craft are reported at this time to inform maintenance crews of what needs attention, and verified kills are registered

The main purpose of the debriefing is to discuss the mission objectives; why and how they were or were not completed. This is a learning situation, where pilots and commanders alike can work on what tactics work best for situations presented to them, and be able to work towards a stronger and more unified unit. These are not situations to belittle other pilots in front of the rest of the unit. The unit commander may ask that a pilot or pilots remain after the debriefing in order to provide pointers or go over individual performance. This kind of one-on-one should not be viewed as a reprimand, but as a chance to go over what you’ve learned with a senior pilot who’s been in that kind of situation before.

After the debriefing, all pilots are released. Pilots are encouraged to keep a check on the maintenance of their craft to ensure flight readiness for combat or other missions that may come up. If any problem arises with craft maintenance it is to be reported through the chain of command and will be rectified in an expedited time frame.

V. Life on the Ground

Being a pilot is not all flying and dogfighting – just a fair portion of it. When not in the air, a pilot has to deal with one of the most formidable and determined forces in the known galaxy – the Crew Chief. A pilot does not own the fighter he flies, or any part of it – the plane belongs to the Crew Chief and his dedicated team of technicians who clean it and repair it every time it comes home. The pilot merely ‘borrows’ it for the mission. Woe to the pilot who forgets the care and effort that his ground crew puts into his bird.

The ground crew for each plane is made up of specialists in five different areas of support: Electronic, Mechanical, Ordinance, Engineering and General Support. Along with these NCO’s, a bevy of ground support and operations personnel work behind the scenes to make a squadron into the fierce fighting unit it is.

General Support Technician: Charged with keeping the craft clean, as well as seeing to any changes in external paint scheme. The General Support Technician maintains life support, ejection systems, communications, inertial dampeners and any and all survival gear attached to the craft in case of crash landing/ejection.

Engineering Technician: The Engineering Technician oversees the maintenance of the EPS relay system and power supply, warp engines, impulse drive, and maneuvering thrusters.

Ordinance Technician: The Ordinance technician takes care of all weapons and targeting system; he is the one that oversees proper loading of torpedoes, missiles, bombs, and other munitions – including chaff, flares, ECM pods and other defensive measures. This technician also oversees targeting computers and relevant subsystems.

Mechanical Technician: Anything that moves, this technician sees to it that it moves right. Landing gear, antigrav units, internal hardpoint doors, access panels, other basic mechanical features – nothing too big or too small for this greasemonkey.

Electronics Technician: Computer systems and sensors are under the care of this technician, who also makes sure that navigation and astrogation computers are kept up to date and working properly.

Crew Chief: The Crew Chief is the senior NCO of a ground crew assigned to a fighter, supervising and inspecting the work they do. Crew Chiefs know all there is to know about the fighter they maintain, and not even the pilot knows a craft better. The Crew Chief is responsible for the craft’s readiness for missions, and ensures all maintenance is properly documented for the Plane Captain.

Plane Captain: The Plane Captain is the officer in charge of all ground crews and specialists serving a squadron. He oversees all logistical requisitions and issues pilots have with maintenance on their fighters. The Plane Captain goes over damage inspections for each fighter after it has returned to base, and oversees preflight checks before a fighter is seen to by its pilot before a mission.

Chief of Flight Operations: The Chief of Flight Operations has the daunting task of coordinating the launch and retrieval of fighters from takeoff to passage through their air/space to a fighter’s landing. The chief also maintains sensor data on the base facilities surrounding airspace, including weather/stellar information and data on craft in the area.

Chief of Flight Logistics: The logistics specialist of the squadron maintains inventory and requisitions of supplies and materiel for the squadron, ranging from replacement fighters and ordinance to field rations and tricorders. A miracle worker in combat situations, the logistics officer has the hard job of keeping everyone supplied and thus, happy.

VI. Conclusion

Pilots sometimes consider themselves the best of the best. The training and the thrill of their duty inspires a belief of invincibility at times – an invincibility that can only be taken away by a fellow pilot. It is a hard life – one that, at times, forces one to watch friends and comrades fall in a blaze of glory.

Here in UCIP, we can correct mistakes that real-life pilots can’t. We can write and re-enact that thrilling rush that the men and women of a nation’s armed forces encounter every day. We can avoid the losses and the tragedy by remembering it’s just a game – but somewhere in our minds and our hearts we must remember the sacrifices these brave people give for us every day.

Commander Thomas ‘Dixie’ Jameson
Wing Commander, 310th Fighter Wing – “Warriors of the Sky”


Ace – a pilot who achieves 5 or more verified kills

Angels - Used inside the atmosphere to determine the height off the surface – measured in kilometers

Babysitters – Fighters assigned to escort duties

Bandit – slang for an identified enemy fighter

Bank – a basic maneuver to turn a fighter to one side or another

Blackout – unconsciousness caused by loss of blood to the brain – High-G maneuvers can result in a pilot losing consciousness

Bogey – slang for an unidentified object.

Boomer – A torpedo

Bouncing – a high-speed minimum clearance pass by a fighter on another vessel that was not aware of your presence

Break - The breakup of the formation over the runway when a flight does a 360 overhead. Also called "pitchout." A maneuver requiring an abrupt bank or turn to accomplish a change of direction and/or altitude.

Call Sign - The code word or words that designate a flight, usually selected by the flight leader for that particular mission. The flight then would be designated (In the case of a call sign of "Red Flight") as: "Red Lead," "Red Two," "Red Three', and "Red Four." In the case of large formations divided into flights, the flights might be divided as follows: Red, Blue, Yellow, etc or Alpha. Bravo, etc. Any combination of names can be used, depending upon the imagination and audacity of the flight leader.

Chaff – Small particles of various alloys – some charged while others are not. These particles radiate various frequencies as most enemy sensors thus creating numerous potential targets.

Chandelle – A basic maneuver consisting of a slow climb through 180 degrees

Check Six – slang for verifying that there are no enemy fighters behind you ready to blow you away

Cherubs – Used inside the atmosphere to determine the height off the surface – measured in meters

Climb – basic maneuver indicating an increase in altitude

Deskie - A pilot that has a desk job

Donut - A drone or a target that is shot for practice

ECM – short for Electronic Counter Measures – any system used to distort, jam, misinform, enemy sensors and targeting computers

Fighter Jock – Jock – slang for a fighter pilot

Flamer - A ship that is burning out of control

Flight Suit – the basic apparel for a combat Fighter pilot. It protects the pilot from fire and injuries resulting from High-G maneuvers

Formation - A disciplined flight of two or more aircraft under the command of a fight leader using a standardized set of signals and commands to direct the wingmen. Not to be confused with a GAGGLE of aircraft

Furball – complex and confusing dogfight usually involving large numbers of fighters

Gaggle - An undisciplined group of aircraft, milling about in roughly the same piece of sky, sometimes attempting to impersonate a FORMATION

Grandma - The oldest female in the squadron

Grayout – pilot is incapacitated from a few seconds to a minute where unconsciousness does not occur. Associated either during or after a high-speed turn and acceleration or deceleration

Groundhog – slang for ground forces or ground crews – used by pilots

Hardened – a term used to describe a building or complex resistance to weapons. Strong materials and design can result in a higher probability of survival from a direct hit

Hardpoint – where weapons, such as torpedoes and additional sensor packages can be installed on a fighter – usually located on the wing or hull of the fighter

Haulers – Carrier Helm officers

Inertia – state where a moving object tends to stay in motion and a stationary object remains stationary

Initial - Short for initial approach. Refers to the approach on runway heading used when doing a 360 overhead break

Lander - the general term used for all types of armored assault landers and landing craft. These vehicles are capable of making planetary landings from space

Launch Tube – method for rapid launching of fighters usually along the centerline of a starship or at an angle if multiple. Recovery is through shuttle bays

Lifter - general term used for all types of cargo and supply transports. The vehicles are sometimes pressed into service to carry troops

LZ - Landing Zone

Mailman – slang for an Attack Pilot

Mecks - Mechanics or repair staff

Nest - The ship or place the fighters are stored

No Joy - Used to indicate that you have not visually acquired whatever it is you are looking for

Ordies - Personnel that load ordinance or weapons unto a craft

Pappy – the oldest male pilot in a squadron as designated by the members of the squadron

Parade - Formation configuration to be used when under observation by the public, as in an air show appearance. Parade formation is demanding, since the aircraft are in close physical proximity to each other. It requires absolute concentration on the part of the wingmen and smooth leadership by the flight lead

Punch – pilot slang for eject

RIO – Rear Instrument Officer – some fighters are capable of carrying a second crewmember on board. He will usually work the weapons and sensors keeping the pilot apprised of other fighters and checking six. He also will target and attack with the fighters weapons and armaments

Recon – slang for reconnaissance – Fighters perform these missions to locate and determine the strength of the opposing force in a particular area. The collection of information and intelligence for possible future missions or for further analysis

Redout – condition of too much blood flowing to the brain resulting in unconsciousness

Rendezvous - To join the flight onto the leader, as after takeoff

Screens – slang for deflector shields

Sensor Signature – Signal or emissions such as heat, electromagnetic, acoustic or other type of energy that can be detected by sensors and used to track and/or identify the object

Shimmer – slang for a cloaked ship, when spotted with the naked eye

Six – pilot slang for the rear area behind the fighter that is almost impossible to visually view or apply weapons to an attacker. Also designated the “Sweet Spot”.

Square Pegging It – Slang used by technicians indicating improvisation or jury rigging for a solution to a problem.

Strafing – using pulse cannons or phasers on ground targets

Streaks – a nickname for Bio-ships. Can also denote very very fast ships or vessels

Tally Ho - Used to indicate that you have visually acquired whatever it is you were looking for

Trash Haulers – slang for Transport Pilots

VTOL – Vertical Takeoff and Landing

Zero-G – slang for areas of very low gravity