Questions from the Cockpit: When you’re hot, you’re hot

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Earl, a private pilot from Oklahoma, writes: I’m a rusty pilot, back in action after… well…let’s just say too long. I’ve noticed a lot of things have changed, to put it mildly. Recently, I heard about so-called “Hot Spots,” areas on the airport where I’m told I must exercise increased vigilance. “Hot Spot” meant something else in my youth. So, is this the real name for these areas? Or is this just CFI slang? And who decides if an area is hot or not in the first place?

The term is the real deal. Straight from the horse’s mouth. The horse being the FAA, in this case.

Now, like you, even though I’m a pretty hot pilot, I seemed to have missed the genesis of the Hot Spot during a rusty spell. And like you, I recall when a Hot Spot was a watering hole that you went to after flying — usually wearing your leather flight jacket (even in the summer) so everyone would know you were a pilot. Many young pilots did this back in the day after we read in Tom Wolf’s 1979 novel, The Right Stuff, that being a pilot made one irresistible to the opposite sex.

With that in mind, heat stroke seemed a small price to pay.

But, back to those areas defined as “a location on an aerodrome movement area with a history or potential risk of collision or runway incursion, where heightened attention by pilots/drivers is necessary.”

The cover of an FAA brochure on Hot Spots.

Here in the USA, the feds first started charting Hot Spots in the Terminal Procedures Publication and the then-called Airport Facilities Directory in 2009.

Of course, this wasn’t an overnight thing. Apparently, the FAA’s Office of Runway Safety started really working on Hot Spots back in 2003, and in fairness to the private sector, Jepp charts included some “unofficial” Hot Spots as far back as 2001.

In the beginning, the official designation

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