Page Title: CAVU

CAVU: "Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited" A military term indicating perfect flying weather. But there is more to it.

I learned about CAVU in my hobby of studying the Presidents of the United States. Part of this hobby includes visiting every presidential site- every birthplace, every home, and every grave.

I often find contained within our Presidents life's stories admirable deeds and outlooks.

George Herbert Walker Bush joined The Navy on his 18th birthday in 1942 against his influential father's urging that he take advantage of the opportunity he had to pursue a college career instead. He became The Navy's youngest pilot receiving his wings while still 18 years old.

While flying a torpedo bomber over the island of Chichi Jima (near Iwo Jima), his plane was struck by enemy fire. With his plane badly damaged and burning, he continued his mission and completed his strafing run before bailing out into the Pacific. As he clung to his rubber raft the tide pulled him toward the island and a Japanese patrol boat attempted to capture him. American flyers were able to ward off the enemy until a submarine picked him up. Other less lucky flyers who did wind up in captivity on the island were executed. I won't repeat here what was done to those men.

His two fellow crew members did not survive the damaged plane. In describing the events, President Bush states in his presidential museum exhibit that he continues to think of these men to this day.

President Bush describes the meaning of CAVU in his life. He says that every naval aviator always wanted CAVU whenever he flew. The treacherous business of naval carrier combat operations makes CAVU always a desired condition. Mr. Bush also applies it as a world view.

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Here is how he describes CAVU in his 2008 Commencement address at Bryant University:

"When I was a Navy pilot back there a thousand years ago, flying in the Pacific in 1944, we had a saying that some pilots still use today called CAVU - C-A-V-U- ceiling and visibility unlimited. That applies to my life today. I've been blessed with so many challenges, failed in some, succeeded in others, but ceiling and visibility unlimited, that's the way I feel about life itself, and that's the way I want your lives to be.

When you're a young pilot and you hit that deck ready for your mission, what you wanted to see was a cloudless sky so you could easily identify the objectives and threats in your paths. That was C-A-V-U - ceiling and visibility unlimited.

Well dear graduates, your lives' experience up to this point in time, culminating by your years here at Bryant, place you on your own flight deck with the training you need to start your mission. As you prepare to be flung off the flight deck in to the next exciting phase of your life, I can only wish you and our beloved nation C-A-V-U - ceiling and visibility unlimited. May it remain that way your whole life through."

President Bush has a plaque with the word CAVU mounted on the wall of his home in Kennebunkport, Maine. In 2001 he wrote a letter to his children describing his relationship with the concept of CAVU.

 "This is my last day in Kennebunkport after almost five months of great happiness. There is something about this place that gets into one's very soul. Don't you agree?" I had a little plaque made. It says CAVU. C-A-V-U was the kind of weather we Navy pilots wanted when we were to fly off our carrier in the Pacific -- "Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited." I will not pass by it without realizing how lucky I am, for the plaque describes my own life -- as it has been over the years, as it is right now."

I think often about President Bush's WWII service and the importance of CAVU. It seemed to me that being able to incorporate a CAVU insignia into a veteran's memorial would be a very fitting tribute to any veteran.

Know that, whatever his or her military mission on land, on sea or in the air, your loved one would always have wanted CAVU.