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Hand & Arm Signals

Introduction:

  • Hand and arm signals are tools for communication between pilots and ground personnel
GENERAL
SIGNAL MEANING RESPONSE
DAY NIGHT
Thumbs up or head nod Flashlight moved vertically up-and-down repeatedly Affirmative
Thumbs down or head shake Flashlight moved horizontally back-and-forth repeatedly Negative
Hand cupped behind ear as if listening Question. Used in conjunction with another signal indicating the signal is interrogatory Clarify
Hand held up, with palm outward Wait
Hand waved back and forth in an erasing motion in front of face, with palm turned forward Letter N in code, given by external light Ignore my last signal
Employ fingers held vertically to indicate desired numeral 1 through 5

Fingers horizontal indicate 6 through 9

A clench fist indicates 0
Numerals as indicated Nod
Cupped hand making repeated pouring motions I am going to dump fuel
Slashing motion of index finger across throat I have stopped dumping fuel

MALFUNCTIONING EQUIPMENT (HEFOE)
SIGNAL MEANING RESPONSE
DAY NIGHT
Weeping signal and then indicated by finger numbers 1 to 6 Flashlight held close to top of canopy pointing toward wingman, followed by 1 to 6 dashes to indicate system affected
  1. Hydraulic
  2. Electric
  3. Fuel
  4. Oxygen
  5. Engine
  6. FCS
Day: nod or thumbs up

Night: vertical movement of the flashlight

Pass or assume the lead as appropriate

TAKEOFF, CHANGING LEAD, LEAVING FORMATION, BREAKUP, LANDING
SIGNAL MEANING RESPONSE
DAY NIGHT
1. Section/Division lead give thumbs up

2. Wingman gives thumbs up

3. Section/Division Lead kisses off wingman
1. Section/Division Lead turns formation lights off

2. Wingman turns formation lights off

2a. Wingman turns formation lights on

3. Section/Division Lead turns formation lights on
1. I am ready to take position on the runway

2. I am ready to take position on the runway

2a. I am ready for takeoff roll

3. I am executing takeoff roll
1. Standby for response from wingman

2. Lead calls for takeoff

2a. Section/Division Lead formation lights on

3. Wingman roll in order
1. Leader pats self on the head, points to wingman 1. Leads aircraft turns strobe light ON

2. If external lights are inoperative, leader shines flashlight on helmet, then shines light on wingman
Leader shifting lead to wingman 1. Wingman pats head and assumes lead

2. Wingman turns strobe lights OFF and assumes lead

If external lights are inoperative:
Wingman shines flashlight at leader, then on his helmet and assumes lead
Leader pats self on head and holds up two or more fingers Leader shifting lead to division designated by numerals Wingman relays signal; division leader designated assumes lead
Pilot blows kiss to leader I am leaving formation Leader nods and waves goodbye
Leader blows kiss and points to aircraft Aircraft pointed out leave formation Wingman indicated blows kiss and executes
Leader points to wingman, then points to eye, then to vessel or object Directs plane to investigate object or vessel Wingman indicated blows kiss and executes
Division leader holds up and rotates two fingers in horizontal circle, preparatory signal to breaking off Section break-off Wingman relays signal to section leader. Section leader nods or waves goodbye and executes
Leader scribe's horizontal circle with forefinger Series of Is in code given by external lights Breakup (and rendezvous) Wingman take lead, pass signal after leader breaks and follow
Landing motion with open hand:
1. Followed by patting head

2. Followed by positing to another aircraft
Refers to landing of aircraft, generally used in conjunction with another signal

1. I am landing

2. Directs indicated aircraft to land
1. Nods or waves goodbye

2. Aircraft indicated repeats signal, blows a kiss and executes
Open hand held vertically and moved forward or backward, palm in direction of movement Adjust wing position foreword or aft Wingman moves in direction indicated
Open hand held horizontally and moved slowly up or down, palm facing direction of movement Adjust wing position up or down Wingman moves in direction indicated
Open hand used as if beckoning inboard or pushing outboard Adjust wing position laterally toward or away from leader Wingman moves in direction indicated
Hand opened flat and palm down, simulating dive or climb I am going to dive or climb Prepare to execute
Hand moved horizontally above glare shield palm down Leveling off Prepare to execute
Two fingers pointed toward eyes (meaning IFF/SIG signals), followed by

1. CUT

2. 3-Digit numerals
1. Turn IFF/SIF to "STANDBY"

2. Set mode and code indicated: first numeral-mode, second and third numerals-code
Repeat then execute
Head moved backward Slow down Execute
Head moved forward Speed up Execute
Head nodded right or left I'm turning right or left Prepare to execute
Thumb waved backward over shoulder Series of 00s in code given by external lights Take cruise formation or open up Execute
1. holds up right (or left) forearm vertically with clenched first or signal wing-dip

2. same as above, except with a pumping motion or double wing-dip
1. single R (or K0) in code, given by external lights

2. series of Rrs (or Kks) in code, given by external lights
1. Wingman cross under to right (or left) echelon or in direction of wing-dips

2. Section cross under to right (or left) echelon or in direction of wing-dips
1. Execute

2. Execute
Triple wing-dip Series of Vvs in code given by external lights Division cross under

Form a Vee or balanced formation
Execute

Execute
Series of zooms Series of Xxs in code given by external lights Close up or join up; join up on me Execute
Rocking of wings by leader Prepare to attack Execute preparation to attack
Rocking of wings by any other member of flight We are being or are about to be attacked Stand by for and execute defensive maneuvers
Lead plane swishes tail All aircraft in this formation form step-down column in tactical order behind column leader Execute. Leader speeds up slightly to facilitate formation of column
Shaking of ailerons. Head raised then lowered Long dash, given with external lights Execute signal; used as required in conjunction with another signal Execute last signal given
Open and close four fingers and thumb Three dashes with external lights Extend, or retract speed brake as appropriate Repeat signal. Execute upon head nod from leader or when leader's speed brake extends/retracts
Pointing index finger toward runway/ship in stabbing motion, repeatedly, followed by lead change signal One dash with external lights Landing runway or ball and ship in sight Ashore: take position for landing

Carrier: break-off and land
Raised fist with thumb extended in drinking position How much fuel have you? Repeat signal, then indicate fuel in hundreds of pounds by finger-number
Leader lowers hook Letter H in code, given by external lights Lower arresting hook Wingman lower arresting hook. Leader indicates wingman's hook is down with thumbs-up signal
Open hand held up, fingers together, move in fore-and-aft chopping motion (by leader) Course to be steered is present compass heading Nod of head (I understand)
Tap earphones, followed by patting of head, and point to other aircraft Take over communications Repeat signals, pointing to self, and assume communications lead
Tap earphones, followed by patting of head I have taken over communications Nod (I understand)
Tap earphones and indicate by finger-numerals, number of channel to which shifting Shift to channels indicated by numerals Repeat signal and execute
Vertical hand, with fingers pointed ahead and moved in a horizontal sweeping motion with four fingers extended and separated What is bearing and distance to the TACAN station? Wait signal, or give magnetic bearing and distance with finger-numerals. The first three numerals indicate magnetic and the last two or three, distance

VISUAL EMERGENCY SIGNALS (AIR-TO-AIR)
SIGNAL MEANING RESPONSE
DAY NIGHT
Arms bend across forehead weeping Horizontal motion of flashlight shone at other aircraft General emergency signal meaning I am in trouble Carry out squadron doctrine for escort of disabled aircraft
Landing motion with open hand Circular motion of flash light shone at other aircraft I must land immediately Assume lead, if indicated, and return to base or nearest suitable field
Point to pilot and given series of thumbs down movements Flash series of dots with exterior lights Are you having difficulty Thumbs up: I am alright
Thumbs down: I am having trouble
Lights off once then on stead: I am all right
Lights flashing: I am having trouble
1. Pistol-cocking motion with either hand

2. Followed by question-signal

3. Followed by thumbs-down signal
1. Ready or safety guns

2. How much ammo do you have?

3. I am unable to fire
1. Repeat signal and execute

2. Thumbs up for over half, Thumbs down for under half

Nod Head (I understand)
1. Shaking fist

2. Followed by question-signal

3. Followed by thumbs-down signal
1. Arm or safety bombs, as applicable

2. How many bombs do I have?

3. I am unable to drop
1. Repeat signal and execute

Indicate with appropriate finger numerals

3. Nod head (I understand)
1. Shaking head, with fingers extended downward

2. Followed by question-signal

3. Followed by thumbs-down signal
1. Arm or safety missile/rockets as applicable

2. How many missiles/rockets do I have

3. I am unable to fire
1. Repeat signal and execute

2. Indicate with appropriate finger-numerals

3. Nod head (I understand)
Pistol cocking motion with either hand, followed by fore and aft pulling motion with a clenched fist 1. Strobe light ON and OFF by lead aircraft

2. Strobe light turned ON for second time (allow time for setting up switches)
Jettison external stores:

1. Set up your switches for jettison

2. You are cleared to drop
Repeat signal and execute

1. Set up jettison/ordnance switches

2. Execute
One finger turn-up signal

Form cone-shape with hand, all fingers extended aft (make signal close to canopy

1. Cone moved aft

2. Cone moved forward
By receiver; start turbine

1. By receiver. Extend drogue

2. By receiver: retract
Tanker execute. Receiver gives thumbs-up when turbine starts. Tanker execute. Receiver give thumbs-up if:

1. Drogue extends properly

2. Drogue retracts fully and air turbine feathers
Make hand into cup shape, then make repeated pouring motions By tanker: I am going to dump fuel By receiver: Nod. Give thumbs-up when fuel dumping commences
Slashing motion of index finger across throat By tanker: I have stopped dumping fuel By receiver: Give thumbs-up if fuel dumping has ceased

Ground/Deck Hand And Arm Signals
Ground/Deck Hand And Arm Signals

Ground/Deck Hand And Arm Signals

Ground/Deck Hand And Arm Signals

Ground/Deck Hand And Arm Signals
Figure 1: Ground/Deck Hand And Arm Signals

Airplane Flying Handbook, Standard Hand And Arm Signals
Figure 2: Airplane Flying Handbook, Standard Hand And Arm Signals

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