Saturday, February 21, 2009


X14, doesn't that sound like a super powerful cleaning agent? Or a secret service agent? Actually it's also the identifier for La Belle Municipal Airport in La Belle, Florida, USA.

You probably know the identifier for the city you live in; for example, mine is CLE for Cleveland. Some airports are lucky that way, in that the identifier is recognizable such as SLC or Salt Lake City. Others don't bear any resemblance to the city they are located in, like LGA. This is an airport in New York City, but the airport is
named for Fiorello H. La Guardia, the former mayor who built it. Then there are airports like SDF, which is Louisville, KY. Do you know where the SDF comes from?

Turns out that these "odd" airport names usually have a story and I will share with you now some of the identifiers that aren't immediately apparent.

Lists come from Airport Codes. Definitions from Wikipedia. All Primary Airports are further designated as large hubs, medium hubs, small hubs, or nonhubs, based on their share of total U.S. passenger boardings during the previous calendar year.

Large Hubat least 1%
Medium Hub0.25% to 0.99%
Small Hub0.05% to 0.249%
NonHubless than 0.05%


Cincinnati airport's code, CVG, comes from the nearest major city at the time of its opening, Covington, Kentucky.

Washington's IAD is named after John Foster Dulles, United States Secretary of State under Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Orlando's airport code MCO stands for the airport's former name, McCoy Air Force Base, a Strategic Air Command (SAC) installation named for Colonel Michael Norman Wright McCoy, USAF, commander of the 321st Bombardment Wing at the then-Pinecastle Air Force Base.


Kansas City is known was originally named Mid-Continent International Airport, hence MCI.

New Orleans is was originally named after daredevil aviator John Moisant, who died in an airplane crash on this land (which was devoted to farming at the time) in 1910. Though its IATA code MSY was derived from Moisant Stock Yards, it is now known as Louis Armstrong International Airport.

Kahului on the island of Maui is OGG. The airport code pays homage to aviation pioneer Bertram J. Hogg who worked for what is now Hawaiian Airlines flying aircraft ranging from 8-passenger Sikorsky S-38 amphibians to Douglas DC-3s and DC-9s into the late 1960s.

The Ft Myers, FL, designator RSW was originally assigned for "Regional South-West" (for Southwest Florida Regional Airport)

Now, SDF, in Louisville KY: Standiford Field was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1941 on a parcel of land south of Louisville that was found not to have flooded during the Ohio River flood of 1937. It was named for Dr. Elisha David Standiford, a local businessman and politician, who was active in transportation issues and owned part of the land.

Orange County's airport is also called the John Wayne Airport and is an airport in an unincorporated area in Orange County, California, with its mailing address in Santa Ana, hence the SNA code.


ABE is in Lehigh Valley, PA, but was formerly Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton International Airport.

Spokane's GAG was known as Sunset Field before 1941, it was purchased from the county by the Department of Defense and renamed Geiger Field after Major Harold Geiger, an Army aviator.

The Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport airport was originally named Patrick Henry Airport. It was assigned the designator PHF, representing Patrick Henry Field.

In Knoxville, TN, their airport, TYS, is a joint civil-military public airport serving the Knoxville The airport is named for United States Navy pilot Charles McGhee Tyson, lost on patrol in World War I.[2]The airport also serves as the home of McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base, an air base134th Air Refueling Wing (134 ARW) of the Tennessee Air National Guard. for the

Last, but not least, is XNA, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport located in Highfill, Arkansas, near Bentonville, Rogers, Fayetteville, Springdale, and Siloam Springs, Arkansas. It is commonly referred to by its IATA code, which is incorporated in the airport's logo as "Fly XNA". They apparently got whatever letters were left, and decided to make the best of it!

I'll let you look at the list of Non-Hub airports, which process more than ten thousand (10000) but less than 0.05 percent of revenue passenger boardings annually, whether or not in scheduled service. See if you can find more interesting stories and make your comments below!


  1. Anonymous11:13 PM

    And KJFK derives from John F Kennedy right? Duh that was not too trivial :P

  2. Sorry, Folks, I made a typo. Spokane's field is GEG, not GAG.

  3. Anonymous7:21 PM

    Here's a few more:

    * ORD, Chicago O'Hare, was originally called ORcharD Field before being renamed after WWII ace Edward O'Hare in 1949.

    * MWC, Lawrence J. Timmerman field, a GA reliever in Milwaukee: Originally called Milwaukee Curtiss-Wright Field, but MCW was already taken by Mason City, IA so it was MWC. Later, the airport was renamed in honor of longtime Milwaukee county board member Lawrence J. Timmerman, who had absolutely no connection with aviation whatsoever. The on-field VOR bears the identifier LJT.