Airport Rotating Beacon

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Dennis M Cunningham, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. Dennis M Cunningham

    Dennis M Cunningham Filing Flight Plan

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    Hello Everyone,

    I am reaching out to the aviation community to get their opinion on the importance of an airport having an airport rotating beacon. After 43 years of flying airplanes, I find myself as an Airport Manager running a small country airport in New Hampshire, 3 miles from my residence. Dream come true. Anyways, I found out what small town politics is all about. A small contingency of residents are quite unhappy of the possibility of the airport installing this beacon. I am pushing the safety factor with the beacon. Please share your experiences if any regarding this subject. I thought is was quite unusual to have a lighted asphalt runway without a beacon when I moved to NH 30 years ago. I know that an airport beacon has saved lives before when murphy's law comes into play and a pilot is looking for a place to land. It's happened, we all know this. Your thoughts.

    Regards,
    Dennis
     
  2. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Administrator Management Council Member

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    Why are they Unhappy?
     
  3. Unit74

    Unit74 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Typical old people, uninformed, and resist change to anything in the community as they try and keep it a time capsule from 1946, you know, the good old days.
     
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  4. Dennis M Cunningham

    Dennis M Cunningham Filing Flight Plan

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    I have heard of a number of reasons. Light Pollution, will obscure the sky in viewing the stars, unnecessary obstruction, not enough night landings to warrant the need. I have just finished completing a test of the beacon on a rented lift where I hope the permanent pole will be located. The full sweep of the beacon in no way interferes with local housing.
     
  5. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    I'm guessing beacons aren't as important as they once were, since everyone is using GPS to navigate along with the advent of cheap synthetic vision options for when visibility is marginal. I guess it's preferable to have one, and I'll use them as a "field in sight" confirmation to ATC, but I'm not sure I give them much more thought than that (I also don't fly much at night). Curious what others here say though.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
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  6. kayoh190

    kayoh190 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Even with GPS, the beacon is commonly the first thing I spot of the airport environment at night - especially at smaller airports.
     
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  7. Dennis M Cunningham

    Dennis M Cunningham Filing Flight Plan

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    You are spot on about folks accepting change. I find that change and any mention of government involvement and the locals dig in. This is a self-supporting airport. Hard to believe in todays world. Nothing...Zip is coming out of the tax-payers pocket. Our airport is part of the (NPIAS) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. The airport receives up to 95% funding for (AIP) Airport Improvement Projects. You find that financing anywhere.
     
  8. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    If the airport is "better" more airplanes will come there...
    As a kid, I remember the white-white green flashing through the shade in my bedroom at night (2500 feet away) (Grosse Ile NAS), I liked it. :)
     
  9. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    Unnecessary obstruction sounds like pilot’s complaints. Are there many pilots complaining about the Beacon? Some airports are easy to spot from the air, others aren’t. How would you say this one is. Which airport is it?
     
  10. Dennis M Cunningham

    Dennis M Cunningham Filing Flight Plan

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    Good question. Don't know where this would be recorded, except in NTSB accident reports. I know of a DOT official in Vermont felt that a fatal accident could have been prevented if the pilot had a visual reference such as a rotating beacon to find the airport coming out of a marginal VRA situation.
     
  11. Dennis M Cunningham

    Dennis M Cunningham Filing Flight Plan

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    There are no pilots complaints. In fact, the past few clear nights my local tenants (pilots) love this temporary beacon. They pick it up 30+ away.
     
  12. sarangan

    sarangan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You can consider running a test and send a survey to all residents within a couple of mile radius on the nature of the interference. Perhaps also do a systematic measurement from the ground and demonstrate to them that street lights and highway signs produce far more light pollution than the airport beacon. In any case, I suspect you will not convince this group because most likely they are the same group who would like to see the airport shut down.
     
  13. Dennis M Cunningham

    Dennis M Cunningham Filing Flight Plan

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    That a true statement Andrew. The sad state is that this small group seem to make an impact to my local select board. We had a public hearing over 1 1/2 years ago and this small coalition made a big stink about this beacon, but were present. I have been networking around the community found that many of the taxpayers are in favor on having this safety beacon installed.
     
  14. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I remember the first real solo night flight I took. I recall spotting the beacon from like 50 miles out, I was really surprised. I remember thinking “man, if my VOR dies and I lose the garmin 430 and my tablet shts the bed and my phone battery dies, I always have that beacon to bring me home”. I thought it was pretty cool actually, and when I told ATC I had the field in site I totally expected them to say something like “dude you’re 50 miles away” but they didn’t. I’m sure they were happy to get rid of me.
     
  15. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    Actually deleted that comment, as I thought it might come off as too contentious, but you quoted me too quick :) ; thanks for the reply. Like I said, I don't fly much at night, but I did a few months ago and the beacons are nice landmarks, and I could see that they would potentially be helpful in an emergency at night or in foul weather.
     
  16. Mike Smith

    Mike Smith Pattern Altitude

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    Who are the decision makers? A city council? You might make more hay by trying to get a couple of seats in the next election.

    ETA, the way to defeat a coalition is to build a stronger coalition.
     
  17. Dennis M Cunningham

    Dennis M Cunningham Filing Flight Plan

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    I retired 3 years ago and was flying the Global Express for 10 years. Love all the bells and whistles. Its great when it all works, but when those TV's screens (even with all the redundancy) go black one night when making a visual approach to an airport I like that flashing white/green light to identify the location of the airport.
     
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  18. Dennis M Cunningham

    Dennis M Cunningham Filing Flight Plan

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    T
    True statement
     
  19. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    You were working with ATC on Flight Following and they terminated you 50 miles away just because you saw the Airport? And you let them? We’re you getting Flight Following for Traffic Advisories or Navigational Assistance?
     
  20. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I didn’t “let them”, it’s the reason I told them I had the field in site. Haven’t you ever used “field in site” as a means to initiate the termination of FF? The rest of the flight was nice and quiet and peaceful and awesome. Didn’t need FF, or want it. If I had wanted to stay with them I wouldn’t have said I had the field in site.
     
  21. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    If that small group is playing the ‘obstruction’ card there might be a pilot ‘mole’ in there
     
  22. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Tell them the alternative is a fog horn.
     
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  23. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    No, I haven’t. I know it’s common though. If they haven’t terminated me by the time it’s time to get over to CTAF I tell them I am going. I’m with them for Traffic Advisories, not to help me find the Airport.
     
  24. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Before I would support a beacon at your airport I would need to know how much light pollution exists around the airport. Seems like beacons located among ground lighting are about worthless. Stick one out in the boonies without a bunch of airport lighting they rock.
     
  25. AKBill

    AKBill Pattern Altitude

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    This may sound a little foolish, but I'll through it out as food for thought. If the runway lights are remote and turned on by the pilot, could you not also hook the beacon to the same system? The beacon lets say could be turned on lets say 20 or 30 miles out. That would decrease the so called light pollution.
     
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  26. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Is there an FAA rule about beacons? Or is a beacon completely optional?
     
  27. Justin M

    Justin M Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Tell them it's just a light house for airplanes. Everyone loves light houses.

    </Joke>
     
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  28. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I'm surprised the airport doesn't have a beacon in the first place.
     
  29. N1120A

    N1120A Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Even in the GPS era, beacons are still the best way of finding airports in the dark. This is especially true when you have multiple airports near each other.
     
  30. Half Fast

    Half Fast En-Route

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    Were I not an aviator, my concern would likely be an increase in nighttime air traffic. Noisy planes overhead while I’m trying to sleep. Probably not a legitimate worry, but it might be on some folks’ minds.
     
  31. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Beacons are the primary visual reference that I look for when flying at night, so they serve a very useful purpose.

    A lot of old folks are in bed by the time the sun goes down anyway, so I can’t imagine a lot of them out star gazing. That and light pollution are pretty lame excuses from the uniformed.
     
  32. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Light it up I say!

    Beacons are a great navigation aid at night. Good luck with that crowd though.
     
  33. Mike Smith

    Mike Smith Pattern Altitude

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    I struggle to find them in a sea of lights
     
  34. Unit74

    Unit74 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I've got to ask, is there any city/county approval actually required? Can you find a FAR that supports your installation?
     
  35. Scott@KTYR

    Scott@KTYR Pattern Altitude

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    +1 me too
     
  36. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    This sounds like Geezer Bashing
     
  37. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Sorry if I offended anyone.

    :)
     
  38. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    image.gif
     
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  39. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Line Up and Wait

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    What airport in NH?
     
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  40. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    Everyone? Where do you come up with that? One of the club's planes is still /A. No GPS there.

    And, fly into KOLM on a dark night with the runway lights still off. It's a big black hole with just the beacon. Turn on the lights and it's a different story, but until you do...