Hot Club of SRQ Blog

What is SRQ

If only I could have a dime for every time I've been asked, "what is an SRQ?"... I might be rich. Even if you live in the Sarasota area, you may wonder "why the Q in SRQ?". This was my reply when asked by the Vice President of the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association.

Hello Bette,

Thank you for your interest in our group, the Hot Club of SRQ and for letting people know about us! Here is the short answer to both of your questions, “what is the origin of SRQ and why are we using it? The code “SRQ" was the designation given to our airports receiver station but for us, it is simply an abbreviation for Sarasota. The abbreviation SRQ is now used by many local businesses and social media pages and groups. As matter of fact, the SRQ Airport was 22 listings down when I searched for it on Facebook. We were 24, but hopefully you and the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association will help us change that!

Ok, now the long answer regarding origin. "The SRQ designation has evolved from the pre-World War II, two-letter assigned codes of RS to its present global designation of SRQ. In the early days of aviation, radios were used for aviation navigation purposes, and codes were assigned to each aviation facility. During those days, there were not many facilities, but as the aviation industry grew the need for coordinated codes grew. The International Transport Association (IATA) assigned new three-letter codes worldwide. By 1948, use of these new codes was standard practice, and they were given to all cities with scheduled airline service and any associated navigational facilities. A city with only one airport needed only one code. At the same time, Sarasota's RS was changed to SSO, considered to be very recognizable. Less-used letters (Q,Z,X) were added to more or less recognizable codes as “filters”.

For example the Los Angeles, LA became LAX. When a city was served by more than one airport, the name of each airport was coded. While NYC was assigned to the city itself, each of its servicing airports had special codes: LGA for La Guardia, IDL for Idlewild– now JFK, and EWR for Newark.

The Sarasota NDB (non-directional beacon) was the only radio navigational facility between Tampa and Ft.Myers. All aircraft fortunate enough to have radios routinely used it. Most private aircraft had neither radios nor instrument flight capability. The former Civil Aeronautics Authority flight service stations began getting reports of pilots misinterpreting Sarasota's designation of SSO, for the International Distress code, SOS. The only difference was the length of the pause between the “O” and the “S”. Eventually, a change had to be made. Of the unused codes, IATA selected, as the best-unassigned combination of recognizable letters to replace SSO, the two letters SR, to which the “filter” letter Q was added. So around 1956, Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport became SRQ.

These three code letters today designate the area of Sarasota-Bradenton not only to the aviation world but also throughout the community.”

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We are very excited that you have invited us perform at the Palladium on the September 24. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you or your patrons have any other questions.

All the best,

Keven Aland
Violinist and director at HCSRQ