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Cracking Airport Codes, Part II: EAT, LOL and MCO

We put together a fun blog post last week that looked at some of the more interesting airport codes for terminals that can be reached directly from YVR. The piece was well-receieved, so we've decided to explore the history of a few more quirky airport codes (and figure out how to get there from YVR). Click here for Part I.

MCO- (Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Florida) - Connect to MCO thru LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) or SLC (Salt Lake City International Airport).

MCO airport is located in southeast of the central business district in Orlando, and despite being the 13th-busiest airport in the United States it isn't even the busiest airport in Florida (that would be Miami International Airport). The airport has its origins in the war when it first began operating as Pinecastle Army Airfield. In 1957, Colonel Michael Norman Wright McCoy (pictured above) died while performing a demonstration there and the base was renamed for him the following year. The airport code of MCO is taken from the McCoy name, and wasn't changed when the airport was renamed Orlando International Airport in 1976. 

LOL- (Derby Field Airport, Nevada) - Derby Field can be reached from YVR by flying to RNO (Reno-Tahoe International Airport) and connecting to LOL.

Derby Field Airport is a small airport located in the State of Nevada approximately 65 miles northeast of Reno. The acronym LOL of course now means almost universally "laugh out loud" in Internet speak, but I don't think the letter combination had earned its dual meaning when the airport code was assigned. The airport code is actually earned by Derby Field's proximity to Lovelock, Nevada, formerly a popular for spot wagons to stop along the trail to California. 

EAT- (Pangborn Memorial Airport in Wenatchee, Washington) - Connect to EAT thru SEA (Seatac Internatioal Airport)

Like many airports, Pangborn Memorial Airport is named after a noted aviator born in the area. Clyde "Upside-Down" Pangborn was a military pilot later in life, but was more known as a stunt pilot who, along with his partner Hugh Herndon, Jr., became the first to fly non-stop across the Pacific Ocean. 

The airport code, EAT, has nothing to do with Pangborn, and as far as I can tell, nothing to do with anything. Even the people at EAT couldn't tell me what, if anything, the code signified. The man I spoke to did note that it is located in East Wenatchee, but when it was opened in 1941 there wasn't really a delineation between East and West Wenatchee. So for now, let's assume the letters were randomly assigned, or the person assigning codes that day skipped breakfast. Some codes are harder to break than others. Does anybody know the origins of EAT?

Note: We received a tip via Twitter from @soundslikepuget that theorizes that EAT comes from the first three letters available in Wenatchee. W isn't used for airport codes and there are certain restrictions on the letter N, so wEnATchee becomes EAT. Thanks for the tip!



  • Krishan wrote on Sep 24 2013 AT 12:51 PM

    Is there any reason why all Canadian airport codes start with a Y ?

  • YVR Airport wrote on Sep 24 2013 AT 1:32 PM

    Hi Krishan,

    There is a link in the intro paragraph that explains all about the Y in Canadian airport codes.
  • Wayne wrote on Oct 17 2013 AT 11:48 AM

    The code for Saskatoon is YXE .. not YXU.  YXU is the code for London, Ontario.

  • david wrote on Oct 17 2013 AT 3:10 PM

    Q. why is Abbotsford YXX rather than YAB ?
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