Over the years I have been aware of the term "Tyro" to mean a new or inexperienced pilot. I'm pretty sure it is/was used more in a military setting than a GA one, but none the less I was interested to know if anyone knows the origin of this term, and the reason why it is used? Is it still used commonly?

This may be a term only used in the RAF, I don't know.

  • $\begingroup$ It's a portmanteau word for "tires, zero". As in, on an inventory of the intact undamaged parts remaining on the aircraft after the end of a flight. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


It's just a synonym of novice, it is used outside of aviation. Like many other aviation terms (e.g. pilot) its origins precede the first manned flight and it was and is used for non-aviation novices. Aviators borrowed many existing terms.

tyro (n.)
1610s, from Medieval Latin tyro, variant of Latin tiro (plural tirones) 
"young soldier, recruit, beginner," of unknown origin.


  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thats good. The "google" answer. But when, and why was this applied to pilots? $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec: From ngrams I'd expect it to have been used the day after the Wright brothers started calling themselves air pilots (compared with river pilots?) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 9:41
  • $\begingroup$ I think your edit makes this a much clearer answer. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ @corsiKa: ... and football and karting and lifeguards and offroading and bloggers and ... $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ @KeithS At least in the UK, it's recognised terminology and is not pejorative at all. I would call "blah blah control, Finden 37 tyro, request blah blah". It was brought into use after a 16 year old student on his second solo crashed and died whilst trying to deal with some (relatively) complex ATC instructions after being told to break off an approach. The idea is that ATC will issue simpler instructions such as "cancel clearance, fly North". $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 10:56

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