One of the things absolutely hated about trying to get into aviation was all the freaking letters. I realize that I use acronyms in this blog without always defining them – a grad school no-no. Here is my attempt to make it up to the average reader. More will be added as I learn them.

Airport codes listed at the very bottom of the page.


A/FD – Airport Facilities/Directories: FAA book publications that contain information on every runway in the region that the book covers (Northeast U.S., Southeast U.S. (includes Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), East Central U.S., North Central U.S., South Central U.S., Northwest U.S., Southwest U.S., Alaska Supplement).

AGL – Above ground level; is the distance above ground level that something is at. Tricky example: if something is resting on the surface of a mountain, it is at 0 ft AGL.

AOPA – Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; they advocate for pilots and aircraft owners in law making settings, etc. Also give a 6 month free flight training magazine to students. Great source of aviation information, airport maps, etc.

ATC – air traffic control (I’m usually referring to the people working in the tower)

ATIS – Automatic Terminal Information Service (a radio frequency that gives you weather & airport conditions at your airport [cloud heights, active runways, etc]); for busy terminal areas, towered and non-towered

CFI – Certified Flight Instructor

DG – directional gyro[scope]

ELT – Emergency Locator Transmitter

ERAU – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (my alma mater)

FAA – Federal Aviation Administration

FAI (or FIA) – Fairbanks International Airport

ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organization

IFR – instrument flight rules

ILS – instrument landing system

IMC – instrument meteorological conditions

MEK – Methyl Ethyl Keytone (a paint stripper)

MSL – mean sea level; is the height of something above sea level (Assuming sea level is a non-varying standard height of 0 ft everywhere on the globe).

NOTAM – Notices to Airmen.

PAFA – International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) code for Fairbanks International Airport

PAPI – Precision approach path indicator – a bar of 4 lights that tells you if you are too high/low or perfect as you go to land.

UAF – University of Alaska Fairbanks (my current school)

VFR – Visual Flight Rules

XC – Cross Country [Flight]


ICAO codes of airports I’ve piloted to:

51Z – Minto

PACL – Clear

PAFA – Fairbanks International

PAML – Manley

PANN – Nenana


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