There are some interesting nicknames in aviation circles for select airline liveries. These are generally not sanctioned by the carriers in question, but do reflect things the colour schemes might actually resemble.

After seeing a reference to one of them online which made me laugh, I figured it was worth taking a deeper look into this. Let’s see if there are any that you know.

Eastern Airlines’ Hockey Stick

A classic clean and simple livery is that of Eastern Airlines, featuring Caribbean blue over ionosphere blue on a white background. I’ve always liked this one.

Sports fans might spot the look pretty quickly, as it does look like a hockey stick and that’s the name that stuck. For what it’s worth, I think this is one of those rare timeless schemes, it’s just a shame Eastern is no more.

Braniff’s Jelly Bean Fleet

Back in the 1960s, Braniff International had a brand overhaul from nose to tail to modernise their look. This resulted in some very colourful aircraft liveries.

There were apparently fifteen different colours in use, which makes the jelly bean nickname pretty appropriate. It’s a shame more airlines aren’t this creative these days.

Pan Am’s Blue Ball

The iconic globe logo created for Pan American by Charles Forberg and Edward Larrabee Barnes first appeared in 1955. This blue and white symbol was once one of the most recognised in the world.

It acquired the nickname of the blue ball, which it clearly is. Some have also referred to it as the meatball, which I guess you could say it is… at a stretch…

Cathay Pacific’s Lettuce Sandwich

Food seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to these nicknames, doesn’t it? Cathay Pacific’s bold green and white livery also attracted attention.

Some people refer to this as the lettuce sandwich livery. After looking at the tail of the aircraft, you can really see where they’re coming from on that one, though it would never have occurred to me otherwise.

Delta’s Wavy Gravy Nickname

In 2000, Delta Air Lines introduced a new livery, which was officially called “Colors In Motion”. It attracted not one, but two nicknames from people once in service.

According to the Delta web site, it is nicknamed both wavy gravy and flowing fabric, though I’ve never heard of the latter. These colours were also disparagingly referred to by some as Deltaflot, as they reminded people of Aeroflot’s livery.

Northwest’s Bowling Shoe

Moving away from food, Northwest Airlines had a set of colours at one point which people referred to as the bowling shoe livery. You can see this below.

I haven’t really paid attention to bowling shoes all that much in my life, but I can see where it comes from. Northwest is now gone, having been merged into Delta.

Overall Thoughts

There are others out there which I have heard here and there, such as the flying rectum for Air Florida (you can’t unsee that once you’ve heard it), the sunburned Jew for National Airlines’ Sun King livery (due to people flying New York to Miami for the sun), and Tylenol for TWA’s red stripe livery. How common they are is anyone’s guess.

For me, some of the most beautiful liveries from the past did not have nicknames, though some do appear in the above list. Who knows what will come up in the future – let’s just hope airlines move away from all white all the time!

Have you come across these nicknames before? Are there any I have missed? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Jim Newton on via Wikimedia Commons.
Eastern by Alain Rioux on via Wikimedia Commons.
Braniff via Pinterest.
Pan Am by Dietmar Plath via Wikimedia Commons.
Cathay Pacific by Alain Durand on via Wikimedia Commons.
Delta by Andrei Dimofte via Wikimedia Commons.
Northwest via Pinterest.