Cockpit? Why "cockpit"?


Could you tell me why the pilot sits in a cockpit? Why is a cockpit called a cockpit? Did Orville and Wilbur think up the word? Do other countries use this same term? In German is it der Kochpit? In French "le coqpeet"? In Spanish "el cucapito"?

-- Greg Dutch, up in the air

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-hu, hu-- hack, coffcoff... You all think I have such a cream-puff job. But you never consider the strain of bad jokes. Staff quack Doctor Doctor estimates my life has already been shortened by ten years from the jokes alone. So anyway, cockpits. Of course we can dump all of Greg's bright ideas. "Cockpit" comes from WWI. Pre-WWI, a cockpit was any place where there was a military battle or fighting of some kind. Naturally, that use came from the very old English term for the place where fighting cocks duke it out. Some other, earlier jokester than Greg likened the hurly-burly of the cramped fighter pilot's seat in WWI to the screeching and flapping in a cockpit. The term stuck. In English, anyway. In French it's maybe a poste du pilotage or a cabine, or, according to a French aeronautical dictionary, a habitacle. And yeah, sometimes the French just opt for coq-peet. Germans call it a Kanzel or a Bugkanzel. Kanzel also means "pulpit." No fighting fowl there. In Spanish it's a cabina. Simple. Direct. No jokes.

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