Living the lingo

The transition from an engineering college to the Indian Air Force made a difference, not only to my lifestyle but also to my vocabulary. When I joined the flying academy, my vocabulary increased multi-fold.

I started saying ‘check’ with a thumbs-up sign whenever I had to convey, “I understood what you said.” I would say ‘Wilco’ to indicate ‘I will comply with what you said.’

‘Check finals three green’ was one phrase I really liked. This meant that the task given to you was going well and would be completed successfully within the next few days. ‘Check finals’ means that you are in the final approach for landing and ‘three green’ means that your wheels are down and locked, as indicated by the three green lights in the cockpit.

‘Reading you strength five’ became an everyday usage  to convey that you heard the person loud and clear. One among the first terms I learnt during my initial days was ‘bad-weather-joint’.

When you have learnt ball room dancing as a part of the several ‘musts’ upon joining the Services, you want to put it into practice – or in the Air Force lingo – ‘want to go solo’! You go through the local newspaper and locate a couple of places in town and seek your senior’s advice. He crosses out a few places saying ‘bad weather joints’ which means that these places are raided by the Air Force police frequently. And, you don’t fly into a cumulo-nimbus cloud!

On my first posting, I was given a number of tasks apart from my main duty on the Station. Everything was new to me and looked complicated. To top it, all these tasks were time-bound. In the Air Force lingo, ‘I did not know if I was coming or going!’

So, once when a fellow officer told me in the mess that the Station Commander is having me for breakfast, I was thrilled. To be invited for breakfast by the old man (Commanding Officer of the Station) was an honour I never expected. Only later did I learn that the Station Commander was unhappy with me and would make a mincemeat out me before eating me for breakfast! Reason? I had missed visiting the Airmen’s Mess when I was the Orderly officer!

I am now a senior citizen and in the sunset years of my life. When the good Lord tells me – in the Air Force lingo – that my ‘number is up’, I would like to stand to attention, give Him a smart salute and say, “Check finals three green”.

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