From lead sling bullets with the tongue-in-cheek inscription of DEXAI or “Catch!” in Greek, all the way to modern day Porta-John art drawn by an ever imaginative lance corporal, military humor has spanned the millennia.
Enter the zap — a time-honored naval tradition of wholly embarrassing a pilot while simultaneously causing significant paint damage to a plane worth millions. American tax dollars *not* hard at work here.
Most times when a pilot mistakenly lands on the wrong aircraft carrier, short of some good-natured ribbing, nothing comes of the error. Hey, what happens at sea stays at sea.
Other times, however, the opportunity for a public shaming is just too good to pass up.
Phrases like, “Captured by the Bonnie Dick,” “Fouled up,” and a crossed-out Navy insignia with the words “Must Be Air Force” next to it are just some of the zaps that have occurred since World War II.
The British are also known to participate in the zapping tradition, although in a slightly more civilized manner. Their zaps usually come in the form of stickers rather than the humorous, if not lewd statements, that get painted across American planes.
If the navigational error wasn’t embarrassing enough, imagine having to return to your assigned carrier with the words “Chief Navigator” sprawled across your wings. Below are some of the more humorous zaps the internet has put forth.