"Fighting Falcon" is the official USAF name for the General
Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16.
"Viper" is an unofficial nickname. Kinda like "warthog" is a nickname
for the A-10 officially named "Thunderbolt II".
Fighting Flcon is the official USAF name for the F-16. Viper is the F-16
pilots nickname for the plane.
Lawn Dart is another name for the F-16, it started in the early F-16 days
when they had a lot of engine failures and crashes at Hill AFB, the 1st unit
to get the Lawn Dart. Another name is "One a day in the Salt Lake Bay" like
the B-26 from WW2 "One a day in Tampa Bay".
...heh...I forgot about that one. I believe "Texas lawn dart" is more
predominant. That came into the vernacular during the early days when
there were a lot of F-16 crashes...lose your electrics in a fly-by-wire
jet and down you go. The backup emergency electric system wasn't there
from the beginning, as I recall. The F-16 was the first production
fly-by-wire fighter...mistakes were made...
Which also reminds me - I've also heard it refered to as "the electric jet".
Once again, everyone has strayed off-topic and failed to fully answer
the original question.
First of all, Lawn Darts also known as Jarts were the main apparatus
used in an outdoor yard game very similar to tossing horseshoes. The
lawn dart was a large plastic dart with a heavy pointed metal tip. A
player tossed the dart underhand into an arcing trajectory that
hopefully terminated within a circle or hoop on the ground some
distance away. Lawn darts and Jarts were popular in the '70s & '80s
until it was found that they also made excellent "weapons" with people
and pets being the main (accidental) targets. After several serious
and fatal lawn dart impacts, the sale of lawn darts was banned in the
US in 1988 by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. More info on
lawn darts can be found on Wikipedia:
Now for the F-16-Lawn Dart connection...
When lawn darts land in the ground, they look like a short arrow with
the arrowhead end embedded down into the ground and the feather end
sticking up pointed at the sky. Early in the F-16's service life
(1980s), there were a number of crashes due to control system wire
chaffing, excessive pull-out G's, and other reasons that made the F-16
appear to be a "crash-prone" aircraft. It doesn't take a lot of
imagination to picture the analogy between a lawn dart embedded point
down in the ground and an F-16 doing the same thing except that the
lawn dart impact is a lot "cleaner".
I read all of the replys and nobody referenced where the word Viper
came from. I understood that when the origional TV series of
Battlestar Glactica was running they used shots of the F-16 flight
simulator for the shots of pilots in a Colonial Viper. As I recall at
the time the AF had not yet named the aircraft and there was at least
a small effort to get them to name it Viper. Anybody else remember
James Philmon IPMS/USA 12047
...which brings up the fact that I've never heard an actual F/A-18
driver refer to the jet as a "bug" of any sort. "Super" and/or "baby"
Hornet...but not "bug" anything. "Bug-smashers" or "slow movers" are
something private pilots operate.
It seems to be something the modeling community has made up to get
around being sued by Boeing.