This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Behind the scenes at the airport

I took advantage of the airport open house to explore and take pictures. Can you tell what this is?
It is a view of the airport beacon tower from the inside looking up. I bumped into a man who was doing something with another beacon (we will see it below), and he told me that commercial airports flash blue-white-blue-white on their beacons. (I have always thought it was green rather than blue because that is what the beacon looks like from my upstairs window in the winter.) Military airports flash blue-white-white-blue-white-white. One of the other things he told me is that the flashing lights on commercial airplanes go flash-pause-flash-pause while those on military craft go flash-flash-pause-flash-flash-pause.
Every airport seems to have a wind socket. They not only tell the direction of the wind but the velocity. The socket is weighted so that a five-mile-per-hour wind gives it one angle, and a ten-mile-per-hour wind gives it another, etc. Pilots learn to read the angle as well as the direction.
This is a relatively-new six-bay hanger. There are three bay doors on each side that lift up.
Below is the old hanger building with the taxiway on the left of the picture.
The grassy field below is actually a runway. It is not used much because the concrete north-south runway is so much better. But the grass runway is east-west, so occasionally when there are strong crosswinds on the north-south runway, planes will land here. I have seen this runway many times from Airport Road, so I felt I had to take the opportunity of the open house to go see what it looked like up close.
The lawn mower is probably a pretty important piece of airport equipment. They have a lot of grass to mow.
I have seen these structures from Airport Road and never knew what they were. When I visited them during the open house, I had the good fortune of meeting a man who was doing something with the tower. I could figure out that the airplane-looking thing on the left was a wind vane because it moved around as the wind blew. It is meant to help the pilots in the air. Do you know what the tower is for?
It is a low-frequency transmitter that sends out a three-letter, morse-code signal. Pilots can pick up the signal and from the three letters know that it is coming from the Jasper County Airport. Of course most of them probably do not use it anymore--they use GPS. It represents the old technology of navigation.

The tower is hinged with a crank so it can be set down on its side for maintenance. 

The man I talked to here gave me way more information than I could process. I do remember that he said that there are strobe lights at the ends of runways that are visible from a much greater distance than the runway itself. And there is also a red/white colored signal at the end of the runway that pilots can use to tell if they are on the right descent path. If they see both the red and white lights, they are OK. If they see only one color, red or white, it indicates that they are either too high or two low. (I do not remember which color is high and which is low.)

A bit further out is the automated weather advisory station or AWAS (which you can hear by dialing 866-7167), I had to show this picture because I was lucky enough to capture a plane taking off in the background.
 I still have more pictures to post, but they will wait for another day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Green is the correct color, there are no blue beacons.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerodrome_beacon

The glide slope indicator at the north end of the runway (don't remember if there's one on the south end) gives an indication of whether the proper glide slope has been achieved. All red = too low. All white = too high. Mix the two together = just right.

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