Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

By Jim Hanson
Minnesota Flyer 

99s complete new compass rose in Albert Lea

 

Adam Glowaski

The soft Autumn evening light highlights and reflects the colors of the nearby wheat and the compass rose painted by the Minnesota 99s at Albert Lea, MN.

The 99s-an international association of women pilots, (there were initially 99 charter members) recently completed a new compass rose for the Albert Lea Municipal Airport. The old compass rose had been obliterated during a recent paving project.

Marcy Drescher is a local "99", and contacted Albert Lea Airport. She was aware of the construction, and the need for restoring the compass rose so pilots and mechanics could accurately swing their compasses. While a more utilitarian compass rose could be painted, the offer of the beautiful stylized compass rose was hard to turn down! When I indicated an interest, she contacted the 99's Air Marking chairman, Tracy Davenport.

Tracy explained that the compass rose was part of the 99s Air Marking program-dating back to the "Golden Age" of aviation in the 1930s. "In the 1930s, navigation was accomplished with 'a compass, a clock, and an oil company road map" she explained. "Not only did the 99s paint compass roses to insure accuracy, but the name of the airport was often painted on the ramp as well. We even painted air markers on the tops of buildings, with an arrow pointing to the nearest airport, along with the distance. This compass rose program not only serves a useful purpose, but it provides homage to the men and women pilots of that era."

I'd have to agree-the compass rose is not only useful and utilitarian, but decorative. We chose a turnaround pad on our cross runway to assure that there was no magnetic interference. The 99s requested a center mark with approximately 50 feet available on all sides, and a city engineer or surveyor to mark magnetic north from the center mark about 25 feet out.

 

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