Thingamajig Thursday: marshalling wands

David K. Israel

It's another Thingamajig Thursday. From aglets, which, thanks to reader Bill, are now called fleugelbinders (love it!), we turn to those red flashlight-looking things you see the grounds crews use for directing airplane traffic on the tarmac. You've probably also seen them used at busy intersections when a traffic cop has to stand in for a malfunctioning traffic light, or when a road is closed.

So what are they? Well, they seem to go by a couple different names, especially in the U.K., but most contain the word wand in there somewhere. Safety Wands are your more generic types, the orange ones that sometimes emit a solid light, and sometimes flash on and off.

But because the crews on the tarmac who help bring the plane in are actually called marshals, another common name, and the one I prefer, is Marshalling Wand. Some companies even make them in many different colors like yellow, green, and blue. There are now much brighter LED versions, as well, that outlive traditional bulbs by years and are quite popular in the U.K., where, as you know if you've ever visited, it's always foggy, grey, drizzling or hazy.

So how about a new name for these thingamajigs? We can do better than marshalling or safety wand, can't we?