Whiskey Compass

In one of my previous posts I talked about an ol’ pilot rule-of-thumb (we also call them memory aid) called “Whiskey Compass”. This was in relation to Alcohol and Aviation. Most of the newer generation pilots know this rule as “Bottle to Throttle”. Well the rule is 8 hours from bottle to throttle, and you can read more about it by clicking here to go to my other post.

This post is to explain a bit more about why the rule back then was known as“Whiskey Compass”.

One theory is that back then the compass, unlike nowadays, did not have kerosene in it, but was filled up with alcohol for the magnet to float around freely and to provide lubrication for the pivoting point. Also, compass was the only, or at least primary means of navigation. There were no VORs, or NDBs. So, if there would be alcohol in the compass, it would not work. And this was our memory aid – Whiskey Compass!

You consume whiskey, then stay away from the compass, i.e. don’t fly!

The second theory has got nothing to do with flying drunk, but still explains the origin of “Whiskey Compass”. As the compass had kerosene fluid in it; it was called, and as a matter of fact, it still is called a Wet Compass. As in aviation Phonetics, Whiskey is for W, so that explains Whiskey Compass, or W-Compass.

Maybe in the next article we will talk about the Whiskey Compass (wet compass in this case) a bit more.

4 thoughts on “Whiskey Compass”

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  2. My primary flight instructor gave me 3 reasons why it was called “whiskey compass: 1st. The reason they gave their commanding officers “keep whiskey away from compass” yes the same as bottle to throttle. 2nd. Per their flight
    Instructors, wet compass or whiskey compass. 3rd. As told to the mechanic, as a way of sneaking a shot of whiskey during a mission.