Monday, December 29, 2008

The Next Installment

Here is the next picture that I took that day. This is taken toward the runway and shows quite a few features on an airport. Starting from left, you can see the first of two flashlight looking things in the ground, then a stop sign, then a similar, but red, light. These are for vehicles driving on a roadway, which is past the ramp (the concrete in the foreground). The first lights are to alert the drivers to the upcoming intersection - you can see a stop bar painted on the asphalt. I cannot say for sure whether the red light is activated by an approaching or by a person monitoring. I will have to ask around, since I can't find the answer on the internet. I did find a guide for drivers that has some great information for anyone, driving or not:

Behind the lights, you'll see a sign with a J2 on a black background and a J on a yellow background. If you are facing this sign, it means you are on J (or Juliet) taxiway and J taxiway goes right and left at the intersection you are approaching. Look at this diagram to try and figure out where on the airport we were parked when I took this picture. To the right of this sign (which is backlit so you can read it at night) you can see the back of another similar sign. The front of this sign would have the same two taxiways listed, but in reverse order. In other words, you would be on J taxiway, and the sign would tell you to turn right or left to enter J2 taxiway. By the way, the Air Traffic Controller working the "Ground" frequency would usually tell you which taxiway to take, but if they are not specific, you as the pilot are supposed to determine the most direct route.

You can probably see the blue lights everywhere along the taxiways. An airport at night is a beautiful thing. The lights are also turned on during inclement weather. Looking farther in the picture (you'll have to zoom), you can see the white lights that outline the runway (though there are red ones at the end of the runway). The white 9 on the black background tells pilots that they have 9000ft of runway left. Based on looking at the airport diagram, which runway is it? What other taxiway would you have to cross to get to the "Departure end" of this runway?

You can see the big white fuel tanks (the fuel "farm") I talked about previously, and an orange windsock. From Wikipedia:
A windsock is a conical textile tube designed to indicate wind direction and relative wind speed. Wind direction is the opposite of the direction in which the windsock is pointing (note that wind directions are conventionally specified as being the compass point from which the wind originates; so a windsock pointing due north indicates a southerly wind). Windspeed is indicated by the windsock's angle relative to the mounting pole; in low winds, the windsock droops; in high winds it flies horizontally. Per FAA standards, a 15 knot (17mph) wind will fully extend the windsock. A 3 knot (3.5mph) breeze will cause the windsock to orient itself according to the wind. At many airports windsocks are lighted at night, either by flood lights on top surrounding it or with one mounted on the pole shining inside it.
Well, that's probably enough for this edition. More next time!

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