“It matters what you call a thing.” ― Solmaz Sharif, Look
A name is important, but naming an airplane is very important. Why? There are a number of reasons, the first of which is a name elevates. It says, this is significant enough to be given an identity. I know objects are just that, a thing, but what you call things says a lot. It symbolizes the place that object has in your life.
Names And Registrations
To fly an airplane in the United States, or for that matter, in any country, requires it have a registration. Of course, this is a regulation, taxation, governmental tracking thing, but this requirement has less nefarious applications also.
In the USA for general aviation aircraft, the registration number is also the “call sign”, for radio communications. A really neat thing is that in this country the FAA lets you pick your call sign from among those not yet in use.
Choosing A Name
When the biplane project was resurrected, one of the first things I did was poll my family on how we wanted to “name” this much delayed baby. These days many folks name their child before it is born, so why not us? We came up with three criteria: It would include,
Daddy’s initials: PH for Paul Hancock
include the year he was born: 1929
a radio friendly call sign
As a former air traffic controller and current pilot, I value the radio friendly component highly.
This is a good idea, since a cumbersome call sign can add to miscommunication over the air and, for that matter between controllers over “the landline”.
In addition, this airplane will be an open cockpit, so wind noise is bound to be a significant issue. Thus, the simpler the better. I did a search of the call sign pool and found three candidates that fit the above criteria and reserved them.
Polling “The Landline”
Why three? I wanted to let it stew for a year, the length of time a reservation is good for. When the three call signs came up for renewal this year, I decided to choose one by polling a closed Facebook group of pilots and controllers called “The Landline”.
I received great feedback which made the final choice pretty easy. The three choices and votes were:
N295PH – 71 votes
N629PH – 18 votes
N829PH – 2 votes
It came down to this, when N295PH is appropriately abbreviated over the air, it becomes “November Two Five Papa Hotel”. The other choices add an extra syllable: “November Nin-er Papa Hotel”. The number nine, for clarity in radio communications, is always “Niner”.
This is the practical side of the choice, but what about the personal side? Here it is:
N – November, the ICAO Assigned designation for all United States registered aircraft
29 – the year Daddy was born
5 – the number in Dad’s family, Mom and us four girls
PH – Paul Hancock
This meaning will be only known to us and those who read this post. Yet, once this baby is born, or rather “airborne”, the reserved call sign will be assigned to baby N295PH, and legal for use over the air.
I guess that is its christening day! Although a ways off, I look forward to the first radio call of “Experimental November Two Nin-er Five Papa Hotel” into the airwaves.
Do you name your “things”? Please share in the comment section. I look forward to hearing from you.