One of my favorite blogs, Flying With Fish, just published a post about the final US Airways flight using the "Cactus" callsign. US Airways inherited this cool callsign when it merged with America West Airlines. Now that the merger with American Airlines is progressing, "Cactus" will make way for "American." (Just in case this isn’t something you’ve thought about before, callsigns are identifiers that go before the flight number during communications between aircraft and air traffic controllers. The media kept getting the Malaysian Airlines callsign wrong when Flight 370 went missing by calling it MH370.)
To mark the retirement of one distinct and Southwestern-flavored callsign, here is a list of some other interesting callsigns:
Blackstar – Africa World Airlines
This just sounds cool. The Black Stars is also the nickname of Ghana’s national soccer team. There’s also a brand of guitar amplifiers call Blackstar -- and yes, they sound pretty good!
Dragon – DragonAir
Well, this is just pretty hard to beat. Because – dragons!
Speedbird – British Airways
I was a little surprised by this one. It sounds a bit muscle car-like for a somewhat uptight airline like British Airways.
Sasquatch – SeaPort Airlines
This small airlines picked a theme that resonates with its origins. And named their somewhat small planes after a huge, mythical beast. Perfect!
Shamrock – Aer Lingus
Few callsigns could work better for an Irish airlines. And Guinness might not’ve gone over so well with regulators and nervous passengers.
Snowflake – Air Sweden
What could make much more sense for an airline from such a cold place?
Trans-Soviet – Transaero
I’m a Cold War kid. The mere word "Soviet" was steeped in a fascinating brand of menace. And honestly, I thought their aircraft looked extremely cool. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any photos of Transaero Tupolevs, Yaks or Ilyushins.
Velocity – Virgin Australia
This call sign nicely sums up my perception of the various Virgin airlines. They seem more entrepreneurial and less risk-averse. It’s a smart piece of branding that other airlines might not use to their advantage.
Viking – Thomas Cook Scandinavia
I’m surprised the other big Scandi-Nordic airlines didn’t grab this callsign. Vikings are even cooler than dragons.
Xanadu – Air Asia
I love this one because it makes me think of the Rush song, which is best heard live on the "Exit Stage Left" album.
Yeti – Yeti Airlines
Well, it’s a perfect name for a Nepalese airline, and a perfect code for the perfect name.
Bushair – Air Queensland
This is yet another example of my good Australia friends using the word "bush" in a way that might make Americans giggle. I’m still recovering from my encounter with a distillery that used the phrase "A True Taste of the Australian Bush" on its label.
Bambi – Allied Air, Nigeria
I’m surprised the Walt Disney Corporation hasn’t gone charging after these guys with all lawyers blazing.
If you want to see a huge list of airline callsigns (including honorable mentions like Tweety, Mermaid, Musketeer, Pirate and, yes, Airgoat!), Wikipedia has a pretty solid list.