In the GPS age, waypoints for aerial navigation are often known by five-letter names. Usually these are just nonsense terms. For instance, the approach (RNAV 14) I normally am given when landing at my base at Gaithersburg airport, outside Washington, involves fixes called RUANE, BEGKA, TIMBE, and JOXOX. Each one is associated with a very precise GPS location; you enter the letters for the waypoints into your GPS device, and it gives the the proper guidance. You often hear the names from the controllers and say them back ("cleared to RUANE," and so on).

For some airports, puckish spirits within the FAA have had fun with the five-letter names. Here is the plate for the RNAV 16 approach to the airport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I'll explain the joke after the illustration:


The sequence of fixes you would enter into the GPS for this approach, and its missed-approach procedure, would be:

Say these out loud if you don't see the pattern. I have no idea why this seemed apt for Portsmouth. Maybe Mel Blanc's home town? Similarly, one of the approaches for the airport in Santa Rosa, California, named for Charles Schulz of Peanuts, has fixes called PIGPN and LUSEE. And this sequence of fixes off the west coast of Australia has its own charm. It helps to say them out loud, top to bottom.


This is all set-up for a more serious note. It is an announcement today, reported by David Stegon of FedScoop, of a new series of approach fixes into National airport in Washington DC. To quote from the story:
Aircraft flying the Freedom route to National from the northwest pass through waypoints named WEEEE, WLLLL, NEVVR, FORGT and SEP11.

Those flying the troops route from the southwest pass through waypoints named USAAY, WEEDU, SUPRT, OOURR and TRUPS.

Depending on the runway configuration, aircraft might also pass through waypoints named STAND and TOGETHER [don't know how this fits the five-letter rule]* or LETZZ, RLLLL, VCTRY and HEROO.
Thanks to reader DP. 
* I've now seen this new procedure; the fix is TGTHR.

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