July 13, 2017

Enjoying CAVU

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

You may have heard the term CAVU. It is a meteorologist term used among aviators and means Ceiling and Visibility Unrestricted. An aviator’s dream when it comes to flying conditions.

For sailors we hear the term clear sailing. Good weather and favorable winds as far as the eye can see. Sailors like aviators will proceed with little concerns due to perfect conditions. Mentally it is a great place to be.

Both terms have been used in other ways. For aviators CAVU may also mean something desirable or sought after. Clear sailing is used to express the anticipation of easy progress.  As writers we have situations when beginning a short story or book we see unrestricted ceiling and visibility and clear sailing. Our minds are clear and the path appears to be well determined.  We then begin our journey with confidence and the expectations of easy progress. But there is something we must remember.

Both terms were originated is earlier times. CAVU was a term originated during the biplane era. The term actually referred to a ceiling of 10,000 feet and 10 miles visibility. Biplanes seldom flew higher than 10,000 feet due to oxygen limitations so that height was considered unrestricted. As for clear sailing it too came about in the days of sailing where perfect conditions were determined by eyesight so it was limited to as far as the eye can see. Today with planes traveling at altitudes of 30,000 feet and 600 miles per hour, 10,000 feet and 10 miles seems limited. As for clear sailing, today determination is made not by eyesight but by weather satellites. As in earlier days this can change at any time. So as writers what do we do?

When we begin with CAVU and clear sailing in our hearts and minds we go with it. Unlike these terms our minds are unlimited and unrestricted. It can be a great place to be. Oh there will be a need or an opportunity to change courses but this won’t be due to an outside influence. It will be your decision to change courses so you can make your writing more interesting.

Writers have those moments when an idea hits them, a story seems clear from beginning to end and the writing is easy. That is when we take advantage of the clarity of the moment. Full sails and clear sailing can be real for writers. When this feeling, this clarity hits go with it. Write and enjoy CAVU!     


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