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How much do pilots rely on hand signals to communicate?

Unread postPosted: 14 Jul 2012, 03:45
by icemaverick
You hear a lot about radio, and data-links and advanced communications. But in a lot of videos, you see pilots making hand gestures out of the canopy towards each other. Do they just do that when they're being taped for show? Or do they actually use hand signals a lot?

Unread postPosted: 14 Jul 2012, 19:57
by LinkF16SimDude
Hand gestures do indeed have a purpose in the real world. The Navy in particular relies on them during flight deck ops because the sheer noise and ops tempo make electronic intercom unfeasible. USAF uses them too albeit for differing reasons. When you're in Last Chance you use hands to talk to the ground folks lookin' you over. For transient jets at airfields unaccustomed to handling something like a fighter or lack the compatible GSE gear, the pilot will brief the ground support people about what gestures mean what.

When airborne, sometimes it's just easier to flip a hand signal than to key up a radio. If you're having radio problems, hand signals are used to relay your status. The catch is the guy/gal you're signalling has to be close enough to see it. Not Thunderbird close, but inside of 100 feet or so (pilots have pretty good eyesight :wink: ). And even with all the fancy shmancy comm gear nowadays, sometimes it's more secure to use hand gestures with your wingman for comm sec purposes.

Unread postPosted: 16 Jul 2012, 07:43
by huggy
In case you want to see the Air Force regulation that standardizes hand signals, here you go:
http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/m ... 11-205.pdf

Unread postPosted: 21 Jul 2012, 11:11
by maddog2840
And we aerospace parking attendants brief the crew on hand signals during the walk around. They come in real handy (no pun) when you're launching/parking more than one jet. We got kudos last week parking 11 F-16's in about ten minutes. Fuel emergency. There were three of us. Stop them. Pin them. Signal to shut down and on to the next one. Many had never seen "Wave bye bye" as a hand signal. But they waited in the cockpit until we brought the ladders. Back in the Stone Age, the F-105 Red Ball crew wore t shirts. On the back was a big thumbs down with the logo "Shut Her Down". They just walked away from the jet.

Unread postPosted: 29 Aug 2012, 23:31
by vcq09
I just read a great article in Wingman Magazine summing up the differences in hand signals between Air Force and Navy pilots that caused confusion between a Viper driver and a Hornet driver during an exercise. I'm going to use the article in class with my international military pilots as an activity (I can post the scans if anyone's interested).

Unread postPosted: 30 Aug 2012, 01:29
by FlightDreamz
vcq09
I just read a great article in Wingman Magazine summing up the differences in hand signals between Air Force and Navy pilots that caused confusion between a Viper driver and a Hornet driver at Red Flag. I'm going to use the article in class with my international military pilots as an activity (I can post the scans if anyone's interested).

Interested! Please post when you get a chance,thanks. :applause:

Unread postPosted: 31 Aug 2012, 06:38
by huggy
To my knowledge, the USAF and international community are very standardized with their signals (yes, there are some differences). However, I've not found any other military that uses the Navy's version. I'm sure there might be,... I just haven't found them.

Unread postPosted: 31 Aug 2012, 13:50
by vcq09
Here is the article I mentioned (Thinking Joint: Understanding Differences in Visual Signals) from Wingman Magazine Fall 2011.

Unread postPosted: 31 Aug 2012, 14:47
by deadseal
handsignals in flight are used almost exclusively for nordo situations. no tactical applications as your wingman is too far away

Unread postPosted: 31 Aug 2012, 16:09
by vcq09
Wow, and don't forget the fun of being NORDO at night!

"Section instrument approach with wingman NORDO procedures
NORDO aircraft attracts attention by switching external lights to bright and flashing
2.Lead
a.Signal wingman with flashlight; move flashlight vertically to acknowledge NORDO
(1) Use light signals to change aircraft configuration
(a) Speed brakes: preparatory signal is three dashes withexternal lights; pause, then execute when lights come backon steady
(b) Gear and flaps/slats: lead shines flashlight in a circular motion as preparatory signal, then sharply drops flashlight vertically below canopy for execution"

So what happens when you drop the flashlight?