from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The word wingman ( English wingman ) is derived from the military term wing for the side end of a front. The wingman is the soldier on the extreme right in the first ranks of a unit that has entered. Since the soldiers standing in line have to align themselves with the soldiers standing in front of them and to their right, i.e. in a row behind those standing in front of them and in a line next to those standing to their right, the wingman gives the direction for the entire unit. In the times of linear tactics , the wingman specified not only the direction of action but also the speed for the advance of an entire unit. For this reason, particularly reliable soldiers were usually selected and appointed as wingmen.


In air forces the word is still used today as a tactical term, but mostly in the English version wingman . A wingman is a pilot who assists another pilot in a hostile environment.

With Wingman one originally designated an aircraft which is offset to the rear side and slightly outside the leader aircraft is flying in a formation.

This formation primarily serves two purposes:

  1. To reduce fuel consumption by reducing turbulence and thus air resistance .
  2. To enable better mutual support in a hostile environment.

In the German Air Force, the wingman ("Rottenflieger", also Kaczmarek ) is the second pilot in the group after the Rottenführer.


Based on the term, a wingman is also a person who supports a friend or acquaintance in social interaction in getting to know new potential partners. In a narrower sense, it means getting to know women as possible sexual partners. This use of the word goes back to the novel Fathers and Sons from 1862, in which the character Matvei Ilich speaks to Arkady: "I'll introduce you to our local young ladies, I'll take you under my wing." Word usage made popular by the films Top Gun (1986) and Swingers (1996) and especially by the series How I Met Your Mother .

The Missing Man Formation , which is flown as an honor formation for fallen soldiers of the Air Force, is also known as the Missing Wingman Formation .

Individual evidence

  1. Wingman . In: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon . 6th edition. Volume 6, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1906, pp.  722–723 .
  2. The language of the fighter pilots. Article from January 26, 2012 on the website of the German Air Force, accessed on November 24, 2013