Glossary of terms used in Australian Flying Corps

A.A. or Ack.Ack

Anti-aircraft batteries.

About 5000 over

Approximately 5000 yards over enemy side of line from the Allied front line.

At about 6000

Meaning having or at an altitude of 6000 feet.

Advanced landing ground

Should the squadron be established some distance back from the front line and too much time is consumed travelling to and fro, an advanced landing ground is usually selected where machines may replenish petrol supplies and land to hand in all information for telephone transmission, also when necessary for repairs or during general advance such a ground is used being nearer the line and scene of operations.

Aerial & weight

The wireless outfit of a two seater machine includes an aerial wire (copper) with weight of about 1Lb or little more on end to carry wire out to full length to form the aerial, which has to be wound up before machine lands.  The length of wire is according to the wave length of the despatching machine outfit.

Anything doing?

A question asking one who has just returned what the conditions are in the air with regard to enemy aircraft or enemy batteries firing etc.


Enemy antiaircraft shells bursting in the air - Supposed to be a derivative of Archibald a part in a popular comedy whose remark was not to-day Archibald and at one time a pilot is said to have made the same remark to shells bursting very near his machine.

See also ‘Black Archie’, ‘White Archie’.

Archied, to get

To be a target of a enemy aircraft battery.

Army Squadron

A Squadron of fighting machines doing long reconnaissance or scouting for combat.

Arsy tarsy

Upset, unsettled, different to ordinary conditions, ‘to fall arsy tarsy’ to tumble down.


The system of Artillery Observation practical by Art. Reconnaissance Squadron of two seaters.

Art Patrol or Artillery Patrol

A period of time that a machine stays over a certain section of the line observing for enemy guns firing or ranging own gun onto selected targets.


Artillery Reconnaissance the time of a patrol devoted to seeking out enemy battery positions in two seater squadrons.


A practice of the Huns to have a slow flying machine patrolling just behind their own lines to be seen by Allied machines and thinking it an easy prey, they would descend to attack and as soon as their attention was held on their prey, a larger formation of enemy planes waiting for the bait to be attacked would sweep down from an higher altitude on the allied planes and attack. This was only one of many efforts at surprise which served for a short while and served equally for both sides.

Balloon Crawl

The early flights of a new pilot are usually some distance back from the line about the balloon line from where he can more safely learn the line undisturbed by anti-aircraft fire from enemy or enemy aircraft. When sure of his bearings a pilot more often works nearer to the enemy balloon line.

Black Archie

The burst of enemy aircraft shells whose burst shows as a puff of black cloud.

A Burst

In using machine guns from the air it is always advisable to fire a short burst of fire about 10 rounds, to guard against overheating of gun and to correct variation in aim. The interval between burst can be of any duration usually just sufficient to correct the aim.

Burst into him, put a

used to describe the act of having fired in combat with an enemy machine.

Calling up

To wireless to a certain receiving signals by means of ground strips visible to the airman in the machine placed in known position on the ground.


A system of varied colorings and markings on a machine adopted by the Huns to deceive and make more difficult to distinguish especially if in strong sunlight.


Counter Attack patrol when machine a two seater acts as scout observing for enemy counter attack and wirelesses to own batteries where to concentrate fire and informs defenders or higher commands of the same.

Caught fire

Meaning that as a result of the petrol supply becoming ignited either from explosive or incendiary ammunition of the enemy in combat or by accident from the exhaust of the engine and the fabric of the machine, the whole burst into flames, invariably spelling destruction of both pilot and machine through cases have been known where fires have been kept under control and a safe landing made. Each two seater machine usually carried small fire extinguisher for emergencies.

The Circus

A Squadron of crack enemy airmen who flew variegated colored machines usually in great numbers, who would attack  when in superior numbers but seldom if on anything like equal terms. Credited with numerous victories but as there were many groups of enemy airmen known as a Circus the totals are questionable.

Corps Front

The area allotted to a corps squadron [t]o reconnoitre or patrol.

Corps Squadron

An artillery reconnaissance Squadron for defence not offence, doing short reconnaissance, photos, artillery co-operation and etc. Two seater machine.


Contact patrol a patrol by two seater machine where the machine keeps in contact or communication with the infantry on the ground and wirelesses the fullest details back to receiving stations or drops messages in message bags at known dropping stations.


Central Wireless Station which as a liason receiving station front Artillery observation plane on the line and the Battery or Squadron.

Do a job

To perform some set task in the daily routine.


Short for aerodrome or landing place where the Squadron is situated.


The magazines of the Lewes [sic] Automatic machine gun holding 48 and 97 rounds.


A resultant state of uselessness. As used to describe such as dud weather, a dud pilot, or a dud shoot. A general meaning of not being a success or no further use.

E Ack or E.A.

Enemy Aircraft.

Engine deed or Engine futt or Engine konked

Meaning that the engine suddenly causes trouble or starts to run irregularly and unevenly.

Engine test

usually a flight of a few minutes duration to try out the efficiency of the engine after adjustment.

Firing through prop

By means of certain gearing a Vickers machine gun fires direct ahead the shots passing between the blades of the prop. While the blades are opposite the muzzle of the gun the gearing will not allow the release of the trigger regardless of the pressure exerted.

First Crawl

Refers to the earliest or first morning patrol that leaves the ground.

Flaming Onions

A type of anti-aircraft shell used by the Huns nicknamed by Pilots on account of its appearance of small bursting fireballs.


A trip up in an aeroplane.

Formation Flying or Flying in Formation

When a number of machines flying either in offence or defence certain positions are taken up in relation to the leader by arrangements come to before leaving the ground. This method gives greater offensive and defensive strength.


A name given to all enemy aircraft whether single seaters or multiple seaters.

Get Home

An expression of speech advising return to the aerodrome.

Give her full rudder

Expression of pilot describing a very acute quick turn after full pressure on rudder control.

Gone West

A term used to denote that the person referred to has passed away either in action, result of wounds, or otherwise. Sometimes used to refer to other than being killed as in the sense that a machine broken unfit for further use might be described as Gone West.

Got a Hun

Meaning that a Hun enemy plane has been brought down in combat.

Got him cold

To be in such position in aerial combat that the attacked cannot fail to bring down his adversary. The reserse [sic] of had me cold where a lucky escape is described by one who has escaped.

Ground strafing

Machine gunning or firing from the aeroplane with machine guns in enemy trenches or suitable targets.

Ground Strips

Pieces of white or colored cloth 12' x 2' used to spread on the ground as signals to the air.

Gusty or Wind Up

Means when applied to an individual that they are suffering from nervousness, lacking in determination to carry a project through.

H.E. or Home Establishment

When a flying Officer had completed certain number of hours War Flying usually with the A.F.C. about 250 he was sent to Home training units for purposes of instructing others and for rest from strain of War Flying.

Henry Tate

Name given to two seater machine the R.E. 8.

How’s your father

A message known to have been sent from an Art. machine when wanting something to do to keep him amused. The cause usually of a general strafe from Brigade H.Q.s when known who sent it.


Territory the enemy side of the line always in occupation of the enemy even when Belgium or actually French territory has been referred to Hunland.

Just coming to land

The set of coming to earth from any particular height while under control.


Having brought his machine to earth a pilot is said to have landed.

Learning the Line

In stationary warfare or trench warfare the line remaining the same, a new pilot on arriving at a two seater Squadron is usually shown or instructed by an older experienced observer how the line runs where are conspicuous pin points or land marks in that sector for guidance in his work.


The action of forming a complete circle in the air with the machine.

Machine Gun Fire

System of anti-aircraft defence adopted by the Germans in addition to other systems only used when weather or other conditions force the aeroplane to fly at such an height as to be within range.

Map Squares

The squares of the map conforming to the grid lines of division of the map of France.

Message bags

Colored fabric thin long strips, with semi pocket at one end to hold paper, to be dropped from the air.

Mr. Sandbags

On arrival of new pilot at a Squadron flying two seater machine the Squadron C.O. usually insists that before taking an Observer with him, the Pilot shall show his ability to fly and land first and the sandbags are placed in Observers seat to substitute the observers weight.

Navigation lights

Lights (electric) fitted on to aeroplanes to be recognised by when doing night flying.


Often given N.B.G.L.R.C. which are the letters of a wireless message from a machine up in the air to the Squadron informing that the weather is Lo B- [?] good for Shoots, Art. Reccon. Photos or Patrol for two seaters.

Night Flying

Flying by compass or land lighthouses or signal stations at night.

Offensive Patrol

Fighting machines flying either in formation or singly over certain area searching for enemy machines to give combat to.


Wireless signals meaning weather conditions suitable for all air work.

The old baron

A name given to Baron Richtofen one of the famous enemy airmen brought down on the Somme.

The old bus

A term used by a pilot to affectionately describe his machine which may have gone through many combats with him and he becomes attached to his own particular old bus.

On Photos

Taking of photographs of enemy side of line.

On the Line

The time spent patrolling certain section of the line in the air.

Over No Man Land

A patrol might be instructed to work between the two front lines of trench systems and would then be said to be over no mans land.

Patrol leader

The leader or captain of the formation or team in the air from whom all signals are received.


Usually refers to Poor B–––– Observer, used in banter with pilots or others.


Refers to the bombs carried on a machine to be dropped on any target. Used to describe enemy bombers as well He dropped his pills near by.

Pin Points or Co-ordinates

The exact alphabetical and numerical reading of a certain point, position or mark given according to map squares of France.


Propellor of the aeroplane either pusher or tractor.


Another movement of the machine embracing the rolling action but from the side position by action of the controls.

Rotten landing

Used to describe an incorrect landing as distinct from a good landing.

Scarfe Mounting

A patent moveable gun mounting for Lewis gun used by Observer capable of adjusting to allow gun to be fired from any position except underneath the plane.


A single seater machine of great maneuvering powers usually fast and light to control.

A Shoot

When a special target is arranged for the Art.OBs plane to range a battery onto, he is said to be doing a shoot with that battery.


Usually refers to weather conditions of low clouds or think fog making flying impossible.

Spark Crawl

A patrol devoted by both pilot and observer to spotting enemy batteries firing and wirelessing the co-ordinates of the positions to our own batteries to reply to by fire.

Split arse.

Describing some sudden quick movement in flying either in combat, practising or amusement.


The act of deciding the exact position of the batteries firing from.

Spun to earth

Having got out of control the machine falls in a spin or bursting movement to earth. In some cases a machine can be put in a spin while still under control and connected to level position again at will.

Squadron Office

The orderly room or Office of the Squadron unit.


Squadron Record Book. A daily record kept of flying down during the 24 hours from 6am to 6am.

Stick it

To stay to continue work with adverse conditions either weather anti-aircraft fire or enemy aircraft.


Referring to a situation when the odds were against one or more pilots being opposed to a greater number and the position being anything but comfortable.

Stuck her nose down

Meaning that the machine is headed while stile still under control of pilot to a lower altitude.

Stuck my nose Straight for him

When a pilot has his guns firing three the prop or straight ahead he might describe the attack in such a manner.


A term applied to any particular happening.


The act of aerial gymnastics in an aeroplane. Trick flying or fancy movements in the air.

Swinging the Prop

The act of starting up is preceded by swinging or turning the propellor round till in a suitable position for ignition of the charges in the cylinders either by self starting magnets or otherwise.

Tail down landing

A perfect landing is when the tail of the machine slowly becomes parallel to earth and so makes an even descent while with A tail down landing though the machine may not be broken it is not usually considered a good landing.


Refers to the weather when not suitable for flying either low clouds or fog or ground mist.

To trim the tail

In certain two seater and other machines the tail plane is adjustable by the pilot and is altered to varying degrees for climbing, straight flying or landing.


Referred to the enemy Fokker triplanes in use during offensive of Hun in 1918.

Two Seater

An aeroplane with accommodation for observer for offence or defensive flying.

Weather reports

Messages wirelessed down telling what the weather conditions are.

Well over Hunland

Some considerable distance over enemy territory is spoken of as Well over.

White Archie

The burst from British antiaircraft shells.

Your gun.

The machine gun used by either pilot or observers which is usually their greatest care being for their sole personal use is often referred to as Your Gun.


To gather impetus by pointing nose of machine down and then suddenly to a climbing position and then after gaining a greater height to fly level.

Updated:  20 October 2010/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications