People sometimes name their dogs based on their interests, and pilots are no exception. There is a dog named Spinner at my local airport, which is a great name for a dog, and a really great name for the thing at the front of an airplane which spins the propeller.
Notam, Pitot, Aileron, Rotate, Roger, Rotax, Strut, Metar, Nimbus, Tarmac, Tango, Echo, Beacon, Pilot, Amelia, Atis, Lycoming, Mooney, Nordo, Piper and her little sister Cub are also great aviation dog names.
And speaking of dogs from the same litter, McDonnell and Douglas, Boeing and Airbus, Orville and Wilbur, and Roger and Wilco are all great combinations.
I have never seen or heard of a dog named Cavu, and it is a bit awkward but the fact that it stands for “Ceiling and visibility unlimited” makes me want to wag my tail in excitement. “It’s a CAVU day,” one is supposed to say, although I don’t know anyone pretentious enough to have said it. Most pilots are pretty straightforward folks, and simply say, “Wow, looks beautiful up there. Not a cloud in the sky.” It really means the same thing.
Ceiling is the distance between the ground and the bottoms of the clouds, which is always confusing to newbies because one would likely think that because the word is a reference to clouds, the ceiling would be the tops. But, as someone once said, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor,” so flexibility in word usage applies here as in elsewhere. The ceiling is really a reference to how high one can go and stay in visual conditions, so when there’s not a cloud in the sky the ceiling is only limited by how high your airplane can take you.
Visibility is how far you can see in front of you, assuming you are flying straight and level. Ceiling is vertical, and visibility is horizontal, and in a three dimensional world everything else is just a combination of the two; so when your ceiling and visibility are unlimited it essentially means you are free. I have never heard it said, but I imagine it has been said many times when the divorce is final: “I’m CAVU now.” That is, of course, assuming that’s a place you would like to be.
“Ceiling and visibility unlimited” implies not only freedom but also its close cousin hope. I once met a girl in high school named Hope, but I never had a chance. (This is true.) If only she could see me today! I would probably have more hope with Chance, but that’s entirely another story.
Speaking of CAVU tbe dog, nearly every dog I have ever owned was adopted by a local shelter, which in my humble opinion is the only place one should ever acquire a dog. Humans were meant to breed other humans, I think, and if there isn’t something biblical about that there probably should be. Responsible humans should find their pets at their local shelter or humane society, and grant them CAVU lives.
None of my dogs have had an aviation-related moniker, which is fine with me. I liked our dog names just fine: Frankie, Grace, Winsome Fox (Winnie), Stella, and Grushenka. Okay, the last one was quite challenging, but my son, whose bachelor’s thesis was on the Brothers Karamazov, acquired Grushenka at the time and named her. The name in Russian means “little pear,” but in Karamazov she was referred to as “the queen of all infernal women.” Apparently she had a good heart though, and so did our sweet German Shepherd. Her good heart never did give out, although her immune system finally failed her and sent her west.
I fear our very aged Stella is heading rapidly in the same direction. It is inevitable, and the only place where ceiling and visibility are truly unlimited.