Mark Vanhoenacker, in his wonderful book Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot, talks about waypoints. These are points on aviation maps with easily pronounceable – and sometimes cheeky – five-letter capitalized words. He calls them “the sky’s audible currency of place.”
I decided to see for myself, so I went to iFlightPlanner Aviation Charts and made this aviation map of Chicago’s North Side and northern and northwestern suburbs. Can you find the homage to my favorite baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, in the red circle I drew on the map? I wonder if any pilots sing “Go Cubs Go”* to themselves as they descend toward O’Hare airport.
This article in the Atlantic talks some more about the waypoint phenomenon. I’d never thought about this before – a “secret language of the skies,” a way of seeing and navigating that superimposes place-related word plays onto more recognizable maps.
Now go find your favorite teams or hometown foods in aviation-speak.
*”Go Cubs Go” is the song they sing at Wrigley Field when the Cubs win.